CKI lieutenant governor wins US$100,000 scholarship on live TV
By Julie Saetre
By halftime at the SEC Championship Game on December 2, the energy at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., was already electric. The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs had just battled through an exciting first half of the high-stakes football game, and fans were fired up for the second half.
Sitting on the sideline was Andrew Jimenez, a CKI Carolinas District lieutenant governor. He was gearing up for his own championship competition. In a few minutes, he would step onto the field and compete for a US$100,000 scholarship in the final round of the 15th annual Dr Pepper® Tuition Giveaway.
He and his fellow finalist would stand a distance away from an oversize replica of a Dr Pepper soda can and compete to see who could throw the most footballs into the can during a 30-second timeframe.
He had already won the previous round, during which a larger group of contestants competed after getting five warmup throws each.
“We did one at a time, and whoever throws the first- and second-most number of footballs into the can gets to go on at halftime,” Jimenez says. “I scored the most, so I was able to go on.”
The championship moment
At halftime, he and his competitor stood a few feet away from each other on the field while five official football referees monitored them — and while the stadium crowd and television audience looked on.
Jiminez threw the most footballs into the “can,” successfully scoring the scholarship. Even more impressive, he used a traditional overhand spiral toss, not the two-handed chest pass that most contestants choose — going viral in the process.
“I was more nervous during the preliminary rounds than I was during the actual competition,” he says. “The day of the competition, I was unbelievably calm. The only time I was not calm was while I was throwing the footballs, but sitting on the sideline, in the tunnel, and waiting for the competition to start, I was in the zone. I felt so comfortable out there.”
The road to Atlanta
The journey to Atlanta and his big scholarship win began months before, when Jimenez was scrolling through social media, saw an ad for the Tuition Giveaway and decided to enter. He filmed a 60-second video in which he shared a little about himself and why the scholarship would be helpful.
“A few weeks later, I was driving home and got a call from a random number,” he says. “As soon as they said, ‘Hey, this is Dr Pepper,’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, can I call you back?’ since I was driving. As soon as I got home, I called back and was recording it. Honestly, I was calm on the phone, but I absolutely freaked out afterward.”
Not long after, Jimenez — a sophomore at Sandhills Community College in North Carolina, U.S., where he is studying business and marketing — was sick with strep throat. A faculty member brought him soup, and Jimenez told her he was selected for the Tuition Giveaway.
“She ran with it,” he explains. “She built up this whole campaign doing some promo videos, and she asked maintenance to build me these two mock Dr Pepper cans. I ended up using those all the time, so I thank her for that!”
He began practicing on November 13, tossing balls into the can four to five times a day for 10-15 minutes each time. And clearly the practice paid off. After his academic year at Sandhills is complete, he plans to finish his undergraduate work at a four-year university and then begin graduate school.
“This will help me get closer to achieving some of my goals,” he says of the scholarship, “like working for the NBA or University of North Carolina basketball — or even Dr Pepper.”