5th national title brings positive PR to North Dakota

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Posted 1/12/16 (Tue)

Passing Dreams
By Steve Andrist

It was early Saturday afternoon, and my baby sister had already sent a couple texts.
“Good start,” said one of the first.
Then, “Was he out of bounds?”
“Yup,” I responded confidently as the officials went to replay to determine whether a Jacksonville State player had recovered a North Dakota State fumble along the sidelines or whether the Bison would keep the ball.
And finally, in a text dripping with understatement: “This is really kinda fun.”
By then it was 24-0 and it wasn’t even close to halftime yet.
Sitting in a sea of yellow that filled Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, like a tidal wave, sister Penny’s words “kinda fun” probably aren’t the words most of the 20,000-plus fans in attendance would choose.
Even for a University of North Dakota partisan sitting in a recliner thousands of miles north in Bismarck, this national championship football game was awesome.
Amazing.
Historic.
And a tremendous marketing shot in the arm for a state that deserves some positive PR.
By mid afternoon, NDSU had accomplished what no other school in any level of college football has done: won a fifth straight national championship game.
It was a win for all of North Dakota on a national stage. By later afternoon Saturday, they were talking about North Dakota on CBS, NBC, CNN, ESPN, bleacherreport.com and more.
Without a doubt, one of the most heartening aspects of this national recognition is a young man named Carson Wentz, who was born and raised in Bismarck and eventually quarterbacked the Bison to two of their five national titles.
Wentz is a 4.0 student who oozes respect, kindness and courtesy in a sport seeming dominated by brash arrogance and entitlement.
He’s the type of role model you long for your children and grandchildren to emulate.
It was his first game back after being out of action for three months with a broken wrist, and he ended up as the game’s most valuable player.
Now he’s expected to be one of the top draft picks when a new batch of NFL players are selected, and North Dakota is in the national spotlight.
How about those odds
Have you ever worried about being hit by an asteroid crashing through the earth’s atmosphere?
Me either.
Have you ever thought you’d win a lottery jackpot?
In last week’s lottery hysteria, one of the news reports indicated that you’re more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to win the $900 million lottery jackpot.
Officially, the odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 292 million.
Those are pretty long odds, but not long enough to keep hundreds of thousands of people from opening their wallets.
It’s apparently the hope that long odds can be beat that convinces people to part with their cash.
For those who have that hope: watch out for an asteroid.
By the numbers
A quick Google search turns up a few interesting tidbits about this potentially record lottery payout.
For example, if you won the $900 million jackpot and chose the lump sum option, your payout would be $558 million.
And your federal income tax liability would be more than $220 million.
Your state tax department would get a pretty good bump, too.
In 2014, the last year for which data is available, Americans spent more than $70 billion on lottery tickets. According to CNN Money, that’s more than Americans spend on sports tickets, books, video games, movie theaters and recorded music, combined.
Or, put a couple of other ways, it’s almost twice what the United States spends on foreign aid and more than four times NASA’s annual budget.
And finally, lest you think your lotto purchases are helping fund just causes, consider this: for each of those $70 billion, just 27 cents goes to beneficiaries such as public education or recreation.