And just like that, Faribault, Minn., finds itself at the center of a controversy that involves a twin boy posing as his brother, a $50,000 slap shot and questions about what should happen next.
Back story, in case you haven’t read it (from Time):
“The drama, with a twist, came at halftime raffle shot during a charity game between Shattuck and The World in Faribault, Minn.
“The crowd was stunned when the three-inch puck, shot from 89 feet away, sailed right into the tiny three-and-a-half-inch goal. It wasn’t a pro-hockey player — it was 11-year-old Nate Smith smiling behind the hockey stick. Well, at least that’s what the events organizers thought.
“The boy who made the amazing shot wasn’t Nick, but his identical twin Nate. When the tickets were drawn, Nick had stepped outside the stadium, so the twins’ father sent Nate out on the ice.”
Eventually, the twins’ parents came clean and admitted Nate, not Nick, had made the shot. The insurance company for the contest, Odds on Promotions, has yet to decide whether it will award the family with the $50K prize.
In 2005, my dad was participating in a golf tournament that awarded a Harley Davidson to anyone who could hit a hole-in-one on a chosen hole. After nearly 40 years of golf, my dad picked a great time to hit his first ace. After filling out mounds of paperwork, my dad was awarded a $10,000 credit to purchase a Harley Davidson. These giveaways happen all the time, and there are countless fail-safes on the back end to ensure nobody’s pulling a fast one.
The consensus seems to be that the family should receive the prize money because:
a. They admitted the wrong son made the shot
b. The shot was nearly impossible, no matter who took it
c. What’s $50,000 to an insurance company?
First off, admitting error — in this case, a duplicitous one — doesn’t erase the fact it happened. And because it involves a couple of young boys, don’t think the ruse is any less treacherous. We’re still talking about $50,000 here. If two 11-year-old boys robbed you of $50,000 and then apologized, would you let them keep the money on the premise they learned their lesson?
Sure, the shot was nearly impossible. Kyle Okposo, a Shattuck alum and right wing for the New York Islanders, told the Faribault Daily News, “I probably couldn’t have done it … That’s a tough shot.” But this wasn’t just about the odds. It was also about the $10 raffle. Nick, not Nate, fairly won the chance to try the shot. If he wasn’t present, that opportunity should’ve been given to someone else. I doubt they were the only family with an 11-year-old or two who could benefit from $50,000.
I keep coming back to the money, because I realize no one’s going to cry if the insurance company comes away $50,000 lighter. At this point, they have no obligation. It would be a great PR stunt, but think about the example they’re setting. Can an insurance company really award an 11-year-old for insurance fraud?
We can’t begin to know how many prizes we’ve narrowly missed out on in our lives. That’s a fact of life. This could’ve been avoided had the Smiths kept Nick nearby during the raffle. Or, they could’ve purchased an extra ticket for Nate. The parents are being championed for their honesty, and while “better late than never” holds true, this all could’ve been avoided had Nate never been allowed to take the ice. If the parents really wanted to teach honesty, they could’ve sat Nick down and said, “You missed the chance to win $50,000 because you chose to go outside.”
Harsh? Maybe. But honesty isn’t about convenience and recognition. It’s doing the right the thing even before you stand to benefit from it.