Sometimes, it’s so easy to reflexively root for the little guy and decry the selfish, cheap, bean-counting, conniving bureaucrats that run corporations.


Sometimes, these knee-jerk reactions are wrong once you start to think rationally, and other times. these knee-jerk reactions are so instinctively right that you want to celebrate by ramming your knee into some jerk’s spine.


Ah, nothing gets me frothing at the bit more than a charity raffle contest held in a hockey rink in Minnesota. Say what? I said nothing gets me frothing at the bit more than a charity…yup, pretty ridiculous, Please read on.


Thanks to the sports/gossip column service that is Yahoo sports, I read about an eleven year-old whose name—or maybe, it was his ticket number—was called to attempt an almost impossible hockey shot for a $50,000 prize.


It was a between-the-periods stunt at a hockey rink in good old Faribault, Minnesota, the site of an exhibition game to benefit a youth hockey association. So far, so good.


Eleven-year-old Nate Smith went to center ice to claim his attempt at the prize. All he had to do was shoot a puck that is three inches in diameter into a notch that is three-and-a-half inches wide. From 79 feet away. No practice shots, just one shot for his glory, his fifteen minutes of fame and his nice reward from the promoters.


As you can see from the video, Jason shot…and he scored! Okay, I didn’t promise that my recap (the remarkable shot occurred on August 11) would be overly dramatic.


Here’s why this became an even bigger story than a quick feature on the local news, or on a slow sports day, a Top 10 play of the day for ESPN. The name that the boy’s father wrote on the back of the raffle ticket was ‘Nick Smith,’ Nate’s identical twin brother.


Now, here’s what is not clear to me, even after reading this marvelously detailed expose (Yahoo-oo-oo), and several others. I don’t know what Mr. Pat Smith (I’m assuming he paid) ponied up for his son’s winning ticket, and I don’t know if “Nick Smith” or Ticket Number 1357632  was called. Apparently, Pat had written Nick Smith on the back of it, the name was called, and since Nick was out of the arena, he had twin brother Nate take his place.


Of course, nobody thought Nate would make the shot, but we all saw that he did just that. I’m not sure if it was a million-to-one shot but the odds had to be way up in the high thousands. Nice little story, right? Think again.


The next morning, Mr. Smith (would Jimmy Stewart have played the part?) thought better of having Nate pose as Nick, and admitted as much to the promotion company, even at the risk of forfeiting the prize and the nice deposit into the boys’ college fund.


So, of course, the company thanked him for his honesty and then thought about it for a moment. No insurance or promotion company would ever do the wrong thing, so they paid the $50,000 to the Smiths, congratulated Nate again on his one-in-a-million feat, playfully teased Nick about not being there at the time and garnered some extra publicity and goodwill for fulfilling their part fo the bargain.


Cue the late, great John Belushi. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…


The company deliberated for weeks and then decided to give nothing to the Smiths, but to instead make a generous $20,000 contribution to the youth hockey association.


In the Yahoo piece, the promotion company spokesperson issued this statement:


"We greatly respect the eventual honesty of the Smith family. […] Although we're unable to the pay the claim on Nate's incredible shot, we are confident our donation will help foster a positive environment for present and future youth hockey in Minnesota."


To which, my immediate, level-headed reaction was “Choke on it, you cheap bastards.”


But then, I thought about it some more. Kudos to Mr. Smith for his ‘eventual honesty.’ And I won’t check him into the boards for trying to do the right thing. And youth hockey, the benefactor of the whole event, would be served. Hmmm…let me run a triple-check on my initial reaction.


As even my unedited thoughts contain puns both grand and cheesy, my third thought was, “Choke on it, you rinky-dink, cheapskate, pucked-up, tightwad bastards—puns and vitriol intended.



Essentially, the cheap-o powers-that-be saved themselves $30,000 (I’m assuming they’ll pay their pledge, silly, not-quite-cynical me), gave nothing to the Smiths, and for what, exactly? Rules?


This is not an anarchy, cheating can’t be rewarded or tolerated in any arena or rink of life, and, and…rules are rules. And, just think of the dangerous precedent this would this set if they paid up?


I respect rules, and follow the great, great majority of them—I really do. But let’s apply just a little logic here.


Mr. Smith pays $10 or so, maybe more, to support a charity. The family probably paid much more for admission to the game; we know they paid something. For whatever reason, they put Nick’s name on the ticket, and not Nate’s.


It was, at best, a one-hundred-to-one (possibly, much more remote) chance to even have the raffle ticket called. Nick happened to be outside at the time, so Nate stepped to center ice. Ah, the temerity. Those scandalous, slap-shotting swine.


If Nate were the better hockey player, don’t you think his name would have been on the ticket in the first place? But let’s say that Nate was just a little more accurate with his 89-foot shot than Nick. So, as a “ringer” (who, again, was such a ringer that Dad didn’t choose him in the first place), let’s say he has a 1:999,000 shot rather than a 1:1,000,000 shot at slapping a three-inch puck from  center ice into a three-and-a-half inch opening.


Maybe, it was Alex Ovechkin dressed down as a five-foot-nothing twin brother just to complerte the clever ruse. It was probably a 10:1 shot for even the NHL's greatest sniper, but well worth the money the Smiths paid to perpetrate this fraud.


As you can plainly tell, the Smiths planned the whole thing to defraud this company…PAY THEM, YOU CHEAP BASTARDS!


I did not want to use the name of the company…Odds on Promotion…but why should they escape my rant?


But (you hypothetically say) Odds on was just respecting the right of the Smith family. Yes, maybe, but who cares?!


The winner of the raffle ticket (just to get a one-in-a-million shot at $50,000) was a random event, the shot was absolutely incredible, and any adroit, tone-receptive company would have lauded the family for their honesty, praised the kid for his amazing shot, and even reserved a pat on the back for themselves—for being so magnanimous.



Not this company, who also had the gall to snidely praise the “eventual honesty” of the Smith family.


I’ve never been so worked up over a raffle ticket, but eventually I’ll get over it


And Odds on Promotions will, no doubt, one day show their eventual humanity.


Care to lay odds?


As always, thank you for reading. Please check out my other books, blogs and speaking information.


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