Paying for graduate school just got a whole lot easier for Drexel University student Mike Dodds thanks to a couple of football throws.
Dodds, a 23-year-old biomedical engineering master's student from Leola, Pennsylvania, won the $100,000 grand prize in the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway on Saturday night.
"Winning the tuition prize felt surreal," Dodds said. "Receiving $100,000 in tuition was always something that was present in the back of my mind as a possibility, but far from being probable."
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
The student had to throw as many footballs as possible into an opening in an oversized Dr Pepper soda can during halftime of the nationally-televised ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Dodds told NBC10 his experience as a football player helped him in the competition.
"I played football from third grade all the way until my junior year of high school," he said. "For a good portion of that time frame, I was a quarterback operating a read-option system, which is where I derived my strategy from. The read-option system we ran required me to frequently pitch the ball under duress."
In a mere 30 seconds, he got 14 into the can.
"When I heard the countdown reaching zero and saw that I had a higher score in the halftime competition, my head was swimming," Dodds said. "Mainly because I was so excited to have a huge financial burden lifted from my life, but also because I knew a whole bunch of people were about to see me get pretty emotional on national TV. Overall, it was an intense combination of disbelief, gratitude, and joy with a slight hint of embarrassment."
Dodds went head-to-head against another college student from North Carolina. That student won $20,000 toward his college tuition.
In a video submitted to the competition, Dodds said he'd like to open a company that will design and build implants and prostheses for people. Dodds says the prize money will also help him in his pursuit of an MS in Biomedical Engineering.
"This will let me find or create an ideal job that I can excel at and make meaningful contributions through," he said. "That way I won't be rushed into taking whatever starting job I can find due to a massive cloud of debt looming overhead. It will also motivate me to get the absolute most out of my education."