ATHENS, Ga. — Jonathan Pahlas isn’t a kicker. He’s not a football player. He never played soccer.
He’s a marine biologist who ran track in high school. But that’s not going to stop him from trying to make a very important field goal in next week’s Allstate BCS Championship college football game in New Orleans.
The insurance giant chose Pahlas’ name at random from 500,000 entries in its “60 Seconds of Mayhem” sweepstakes, in which football fans vied for the chance to kick a field goal as part of the championship game’s halftime show and take home about $100,000 in prizes.
“I never played football or soccer,” said Pahlas, a graduate student in the University of Georgia’s Department of Marine Sciences. “So, I never did much kicking. Now I wish I had.”
Just for being selected to kick, he won a new car and a trip for four to New Orleans to see Monday’s game between Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama.
If he makes the 40-yard field goal, he’ll win a $30,000 home makeover, an RV, a motorcycle and a boat.
He’s not exactly sure what hewould do with the prizes.
“I don’t have a need for all of them at the moment,” Pahlas said. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m going to try for it for sure, but, you know, I don’t have a house yet and one of the prizes is a $30,000 home makeover. So that’s one that I’ll have to wait to use, I guess.”
Pahlas has been practicing several times a week since early December when he found out he’d be kicking at the bowl game. He’s been coached by friends and kicking progressively longer field goals at Clarke Central High School’s football field.
“I’ve been stepping up my practicing now, but I started practicing right away,” Pahlas said. “I’m definitely getting better but I haven’t actually made a 40-yard field goal yet. So I still have some work to do.”
“The pressure will give me the extra oomph I need, right?” he joked.
Pahlas will have 60 seconds to kick as many as five times in an attempt to get one through the uprights. Even with multiple chances at the field goal, though, there’s no guarantee that his kick will make it down the field.
“They wouldn’t have picked 40 yards if they thought it was going to be easy,” said Pablo Santamaria, whose son kicks for the Athens Academy football team and who volunteered to help train Pahlas on Wednesday afternoon.
Pahlas is leaving for New Orleans on Sunday. The game will air Monday night on ESPN.