ALTOONA, Iowa - Each Saturday in the fall, college football fans turn millions of eyes to College GameDay, and Saturday in Ames, Iowa, was no exception.
As a joke, an Iowa State fan brought a sign to College GameDay asking for beer money to be sent to his Venmo account. He never expected to receive thousands of dollars. Instead of using that money for beer, he is using it to help kids fighting for their lives in Iowa City.
"It was electric," 24-year-old Carson King told WHO. "Just non-stop energy. People singing, dancing and having a good time the entire time."
King lives in Altoona, went to school at Iowa State and arrived for the 3 p.m. game at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. "It was a lifetime dream of ours to go to GameDay," he said.
In the slim event he made it on television, King also made a sign requesting beer money be sent to his Venmo account. The sign read, "Busch Light needs replenished. Venmo Carson-King-25."
"I just thought as a joke, maybe I could make a sign asking for money to get some Busch Light. You know, buy some lattes," said King. He added, "My mom was like 'This is going to be a proud mom moment. My son is going to be begging for money for beer on national television.'"
Then King and the sign found their moment in prime position on national TV. King said, "I looked down at my phone. My friend kept asking 'Hey man, who keeps texting you?' and I looked down and I had about $400 on my Venmo account." Moments later it reached $600 and then $1,000. "I had people from Texas, Idaho, California, Massachusetts, all over. A lot of Clemson people donated. I guess they like Busch Light, too."
King called his parents and they came up with a plan. Keep enough for a case of Busch Light and send the rest to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. "Their hospital does great things for the state of Iowa. Both for Iowa State and the University of Iowa. The wave is a huge thing now. Those kids are fighters and they deserve any chance they can get," said King.
A social media post informing the public of the new idea only increased donations into Monday. "It was over $5,700 and people are still donating and sharing the post and all that fun stuff. They are anywhere from 25 cents to one person donating $300 on Monday," said King.
The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry can divide even the closest families. King hopes his donation can help families with sick kids stay together a little longer. "It’s just all hatred there, but all aside, the communities of Iowa all support each other. When people say 'Iowa nice,' they really mean it," King said.
The donations are now around $6,000. King is keeping his account open until the end of the month when he plans to donate the money in person.