At the end of Gameday from JPJ, second-year student Tyler Lewis drained a halfcourt shot to win $18,000 from State Farm. He became only the fifth student to hit the shot in Gameday history (but the fourth from the ACC). Tyler took some time out of his newfound celebrity schedule to answer some questions for us.
STL: First off, congrats. Definitely the coolest moment of a pretty damn cool Gameday program. Tell us more about Tyler Lewis. We know second-year student but that's about it. What's your major, what do you do around Grounds?
TL: I haven't officially declared a major, but I'm leaning towards majoring in Econ and minoring in Applied Mathematics. As for activities that I am involved with here on grounds, I am a member of the Hoo Crew committee, Club Tennis team, Delta Upsilon fraternity, along with playing a ton of IM basketball. I'm pretty focused on my school work during the week, but once the weekend comes around, I love hanging out with friends and cheering on the Hoos!
STL: Even before you drained the winner, most of your others were on target. Didn't look like your first rodeo. Had you been practicing that shot?
TL: I found out that I would be taking the shot the night before Gameday, so I frantically sprinted to Mem Gym to try to get off some shots. But all the courts were full. Then I tried Slaughter. But the courts were full. Lastly, I went to the AFC, but I knew it would be super crowded on a Friday night. I figured I somehow had to get off at least a few practice shots before game day. So I went and stood by the sideline of one of the courts where some guys were playing a pick-up game, and I would wait for them to be all on one side of the court. Then, I would quickly go to the half-court line and shoot a half-court shot on the other hoop away from the action. It was really weird, and most people probably thought I was crazy for just shooting a bunch of half-court shots. I ended up shooting about 30 shots and only making like 2 or 3 of them.
STL: How did you get picked to take the shot? What did your friends say right after you got picked?
TL: I think I was nominated for it based on my basketball skills, but other than that it was completely random. I was super excited when I first got the phone call. I was supposed to keep it quiet, so I didn't really tell that many people about it. I just told my parents and a few close friends, and they could hardly believe it.
STL: Tell us about the lead-up to your live national television moment. Did any of the Gameday guys give you any pointers, or did they just leave you alone?
TL: I was really nervous when I was sitting in the stands before going down to take the shot, but as I walked out onto the court, my nerves slowed went away. I think playing basketball in high school definitely helped me as the crowd wasn't too intimidating. The Gameday guys left me alone for the most part, but the one piece of advice they gave me was to try to get off as many shots as possible. Most people would only get off about 2 or 3 shots because they would be watching their shot to see if it goes in. So I used the strategy of shooting quickly and it worked out well.
STL: When the winner went up, you paused before going into your motion again. Did you know it was good? What was going through your head as you saw it headed toward the hoop?
TL: I was so focused on getting off as many shots as I could in 18 seconds, that I barely saw the shot go in. I had already grabbed the next ball to shoot when I saw out of the corner of my eye that the shot was nothing but net. To be honest, my last 3 shots all felt pretty good so I had no idea if the fourth one would be the one to go in.
STL: I think for all of us, our favorite part was seeing you push off Jay Williams when he came in for the hug. Planned? Conscious? Or just lucky?
TL: After I made that shot, it felt like time had suddenly stopped for a few seconds. It was so surreal. I honestly didn't even realized that J-will had come in for the bro hug. I felt kind of bad afterwards when I saw the video, so I recently reached out to him on twitter and we made up. My head was overflowing with emotion after the shot, and I just felt like going crazy!
STL: What was it like the first hour after The Shot? Who did you call first? How quickly did your phone die from what I imagine was a deluge of texts, tweets, phone calls, etc.?
TL: The first hour after the shot was insane! So many random people congratulated me. While I was in line for Chipotle, I realized that someone had created a fake twitter account pretending to be me. So at that point, I knew I was a mini celebrity. My parents were on a plane while the shot happened so I couldn't call them until later that night. But my phone was definitely ringing off the hook. It died within an hour and a half!
STL: How are you going to celebrate now that the pandemonium has passed? Take the act on the road? Book deal?
TL: I'm not quite sure what I'll do. Being from Wisconsin, I would really like to be in the next State Farm discount double check commercial with Aaron Rodgers! But I'm not sure if even I could make that happen.