For the second time in four years, a contestant from Indiana has won top honors and the accompanying $25,000 grand prize in the BRACKETBUCKS Basketball Contest in conjunction with the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
The contest was carried last month in this newspaper and about 100 others nationwide.
Michael Beyers, 35, a millwright from New Palestine, IN, tallied a whopping 1,991 of the contest's possible 2,000 points to claim first-place honors. Two others placed second with 1,984 points.
Beyers, who describes himself as "a huge IU fan," rode the unexpected tournament success of his beloved Hoosiers right into the championship game, where his head took over from his heart and he picked the University of Maryland to win, which it did.
"I just had a feeling about their heart and spirit this year," said Beyers. "But I knew Maryland just had too many horses."
Beyers, the father of two, makes engines at Indianapolis Casting Corp. He also collects baseball cards and coins.
But his big passion is basketball -- college first, then NBA.
"I wanted to play as a kid but I was too short to make the team."
His 9-year-old son, however, will rectify any family shortcomings in that area, he joked. "He's averaging close to 12 points a game and I've got him dribbling with his left hand."
Locally, Sikeston's Janet Meadows won the contest with 1,500 points. She was awarded a $250 check for her efforts.
Tim McGovern, president of Power Points, Inc., the Denver-based firm that runs the contest for newspapers around the country, said nearly half a million entries were received. "March Madness is a huge, huge attraction these days. Everybody gets real excited about it."
A Lafayette, IN, contestant, Mark Ehlers, won the $25,000 grand prize three years ago.
"Alas, fame is fleeting," McGovern quipped. "This year Mark scored about 830 points."
McGovern said that Beyers's winning total of 1,991 points was second in the history of the contest only to last year's winning score of 1,993 points.
Asked how he'd spend his windfall, Beyers said, "We're going to put a sunroom on the back of our house. We have a hot tub back there, and we like to froze to death in it last winter."
He said he was sure there would be some left for contributions to the Humane Society and war veterans.
Beyers entered the contest through the Indianapolis Star newspaper.