It has been the sports video sensation of the winter: Fans hither and yon sinking one halfcourt shot after another to win big bucks via assorted promotions.
From college to the NBA, from Brandon, Manitoba, to Miami, Fla., and points between, there have been a dozen or so documented makes since mid-January – and that doesn’t even include the ridonkulous one off a front flip by Ashlee Arnau, a cheerleader at William Carey University.
The most replayed shot came Jan. 25, when Michael Drysch, a 50-year-old computer technician, won $75,000 at a Heat game, whereupon LeBron James tackled him in celebration.
"It’s a great way to meet somebody like that," Drysch said afterward.
The marketers at State Farm, which sponsors on ESPN’s "College GameDay" and the show’s halfcourt shot, have experienced the trend firsthand.
The promotion began seven years ago, with one fan making a 47-footer (thus winning $18,000) in each of the first two seasons. The next two years: nothing. So State Farm changed the rules from one shot to as many as one could fit into 18 seconds. Two more years went by. Still nothing.
Then came Jan. 19, when Butler student Kevin Schwartz made one, snapping an 0-for-32 streak. Three weeks later, Notre Dame student Casey Murdock did it, too.
The students were happy. ESPN was happy. So was State Farm.
"Absolutely," said Justin Reckamp, a marketing analyst for the company. "We’re rooting for the student to make it. It’s inherent with what we do as far as helping kids or families get to a better state and improving their way of life."
Reckamp said the beauty of the shot is it is a “realistic opportunity.’’ More realistic then ever, evidently.
"A lot of people are practicing at home, apparently,’’ he said. "I don’t know if there’s a rhyme or reason to it, but it has created a ton of excitement lately."