Sparks Resident Nets $22,000 Payday in Winning Pro Pick ’em Contest

Sparks resident Kent Harding, right, collects his $22,000 grand prize from the William Hill $500,000 Pro Pick ’em Contest at JJ’s Sports & Spirits in Sparks on Jan. 18, 2013. Harding is joined by his wife, Peggy (center), and William Hill Area Operations Manager Peggy Murphy (left). Harding won the contest by two games with a final record of 194-78.

Kent Harding only needed one entry into the $500,000 Pro Pick ’em Contest to ride his way to the season’s grand prize.

A 194-78 record left the 61-year-old Sparks resident with a 2-game lead on the second-place finisher and atop a contestant pool of more than 10,000 entries.

Contestants could purchase up to 25 entries into the contest, but Harding was able to claim the top spot with just a $25 investment.

“I guess it gives credence to the old saying: It only takes one,” he said. “That’s the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life, other than meeting my wife.”

A long-time contest player, Harding said he didn’t follow the season standings very closely, though his entry did take control of the race for the grand prize in the season’s final few weeks. For winning the contest, he won $20,000 plus an opted for $2,000 buy-out in lieu of a VIP trip for two to London for next season’s NFL game at Wembley Stadium.

Harding cashed out some season prizes along the way, too, first taking $67 as part of a second place tie first – “I was happy with just $67,” he said – then later $2,500 as a first place prize in the season’s final month. He played his picks all season at Scolari’s in Sparks, which recently had its name changed to JJ’s Sports & Spirits. That is also where he collected his grand prize on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013.

Each week, contestants picked the winners of all Sunday and Monday NFL games – no point spreads involved. Each week, $21,000 in prizes were awarded to contestants who picked the most winners, second-most winners and least winners.

Harding said he has no major plans for the money, but did add that he’ll order “a little more wine than normal” on an upcoming vacation with his wife, Peggy.

Also, he’ll still play contests moving forward, citing the example of his brother, who won $1 in a lottery drawing nearly 20 years ago, but still plays tickets every week.

“Now,” he said, “I’ll just pay more attention along the way.”