Talk About Your Long Shots
Rufus Leakin
Guru of Folklore

It was an amazing hockey shot, with the puck sliding into a tiny hole from center ice for a $50,000 prize. But a penalty was called on the Minnesota boy who made the shot during a charity event because his twin brother should have been wielding the stick.

The company that insured the event, Odds On Promotions of Reno, NV, said that due to "contractual breaches and legal implications" it was unable to pay the claim. Instead, the company said it would donate $20,000 to youth hockey in Minnesota in the boys' names.

With one shot, 11-year-old Nate Smith hit the puck through a hole cut into a board from 89 feet away during a charity hockey game at Shattuck-St. Mary's School in the southern Minnesota city of Faribault on Aug. 11. But it was Nate's identical twin, Nick, whose raffle ticket won the chance to take the shot at a hole just slightly larger than the puck.

The boys' father, Pat Smith of Owatonna, said Nick was going outside with his buddies and told his brother to try.

"It didn't even dawn on me he (Nate) was going to make it," Smith told The Associated Press.

He told organizers the next day about his sons' swap. "You could tell they weren't feeling right about it," Smith said of the boys.

"We weren't trying to hide anything," he added. "We just felt that honesty was the best policy."

Originally, Smith said he was going to write Nate's name on the raffle ticket before the drawing. But Nate begged off because he had just had a cast removed, his father said.

"We greatly respect the eventual honesty of the Smith family," Mark Gilmartin, president of Odds On Promotions, said in a news release. "Although we're unable to pay the claim on Nate's incredible shot, we are confident our donation will foster a positive environment for present and future youth hockey in Minnesota.'

I consider this one of those tales where fact is stranger than fiction. No one thought this shot could actually be made, including the sponsors. The fact that it was, against staggering odds, makes this story a champion urban tale, in my book! Despite the lawyering around the prize money by the promotors, at least some money was given to a good cause, and for once honesty was actually rewarded.

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