Larry's Big Chance

A heave from half-court, with a half-million bucks on the line

Nowadays, says Woodhead, about 20 companies specialize in such promotions, offering fans a chance at riches for everything from a 35-yard field goal to a hole in one on a golf course. The latter, Woodhead notes, is the longest of the long shots--about 10,000 to 1. "You can insure a million-dollar hole in one for about $200. A half-court shot on a basketball court, on the other hand, costs between $10,000 and $20,000."

If the spectacle of a fan winning serves as a confirmation of a core American fantasy--loot can rain down on any one of us--the spectacle of a fan losing offers its own peculiar reassurance. After all, there's only so much luck in the world, and the cheering fans at the Target Center on December 26 could leave secure in the knowledge that La Coursiere hadn't expended any of the precious commodity.

The disappointment of his moment of hard-court limelight lingered for a couple of hours, he says. By the time he returned home from the game, he had adjusted. After all, he got free courtside seats, his nine-year-old son Devon picked up autographs from Vikings Cris Carter and Robert Tate, and, what the heck, he did rake in a little cash for winning in the qualifying round.

"I'll never get that type of chance again, for sure," he says, a bit wistfully. "But at least I won $300."

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