As safety Craig Loston raced down the sideline in the closing minute of LSU’s otherwise nondescript 37-17 victory over Mississippi State last Saturday night, one man in Las Vegas started to feel like something was meant to be.
In the final week of the inaugural William Hill $100,000 College Pick ‘em contest, John Yurik entered his seven picks holding a two-game lead atop the standings. Heading into the Saturday night games, he was 3-2, knowing that one more loss could leave him exposed to being caught from behind and outside of the $10,000 season grand prize.
Instead, a comeback-and-cover from Vanderbilt over Ole Miss, and Loston’s 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown that provided somewhat of a miracle cover guaranteed him at least a first place tie. He wound up winning the contest outright with an overall record of 50-20 (an incredible 71.4 percent for the season). Yurik beat out nearly 1,000 other players for first place.
Yurik was paid out on Tuesday at the Tuscany – the same location where he registered for the contest back in August. He submitted his weekly picks throughout the season at Hooters.
“I went 6-1 in back-to-back weeks in the middle of the season, moved up to either eighth or tenth in the standings, and at that point, I thought I had a chance if I could just maintain a 5-2 each week and keep the leaders in sight,” the 54-year-old Las Vegas resident said.
The father of four moved to town in 1988, and has created a hobby of playing both pro and college football contests. Up to 25 entries were available to players at $100 a pop for this year’s College Pick ‘em, and Yurik turned one of his two entries into an outstanding pre-holiday season payday.
Awarded to the second place finisher at 48-22 was a $5,000 prize, while three players in third at 46-24 each received $1,333.35. Two ‘least winners’ players at 23-47 each received $500.