He missed the first shot but got the cash anyway

Posted: February 20, 2014

WEST CHESTER The West Chester University freshman who made the shot of a lifetime during a halftime challenge Saturday - but lost out on the cash prize because it took him two tries - has $10,000 headed his way.

From Pizza Hut.

"[We] know greatness when we see it," Pizza Hut's official Twitter page wrote to Jack Lavery on Tuesday afternoon. "We have a check for $10K and free pizza for a year for you. What say you? #PayJackLavs"

Lavery, an 18-year-old from Horsham whose story erupted on social media and radio talk shows, was still reeling from the news a few hours later and said he was humbled by the gesture.

"Yeah, I've got a big smile on my face," Lavery said.

That wasn't the case Saturday when school officials told him his golden shot was no good.

Contestants were given 25 seconds to hit a layup, foul shot, three-pointer, and half-court basket to win $10,000. They had as many attempts as needed for the first three but just one for the last.

Lavery missed his first try at the half-court heave, then sunk his second as the buzzer sounded.

The crowd erupted. Fans in the front row held out their hands for high fives.

Lavery hugged his parents, who had come to watch the game not knowing their son would be picked for the contest.

Then staff directed him to read the one-page contract he had signed, which made clear - in bold - that he had just one attempt from half court.

It also said he could not be a former high school basketball player. Lavery played four years at Hatboro-Horsham High School.

Lavery acknowledged he did not read the contract before he signed it. He said the staff member who ran through the rules with him should have told him everything he needed to know.

Fellow students as well as strangers generally seemed to agree as support poured in for Lavery online, and people encouraged the university to pay up.

That wasn't an option, according to athletic director Edward Matejkovic, who said Monday that the rules were set by an insurance company that would have paid Lavery if he had won.

The shot alone was worth $10,000 to Pizza Hut. Spokesman Doug Terfehr said staff in his office heard about the contest and were captivated by Lavery's story.

"Those kinds of halftime things happen at games all across the country every single day," Terfehr said. "And rarely do they end in such a dramatic fashion."


tnadolny@phillynews.com

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