When Kentucky freshman Vincent Swope sank a half-court shot to win a halftime contest during Saturday's game against South Carolina, he did a victory lap around sold-out Rupp Arena and began dreaming of what he could do with the $10,000.
One of the organizers of the contest approached Swope in the midst of his celebration with a copy of the contract he'd signed and a video replay of the shot. The man intimated to Swope that the supermarket chain Kroger might not be willing to pay the $10,000 since Swope appeared to take the shot a few inches over the mid-court stripe.
"They said when I released the ball I was over the line," Swope said. "There are some pictures where it looks like I touched the line and some where it looks like I didn't touch the line, but that didn't even cross my mind when I shot it. I was just thinking, 'I'm $10,000 richer.'"
Word that Kroger's might not pay Swope reached Kentucky Sports Radio founder Matt Jones during the second half of Saturday's game, so he wasted little time in organizing a movement on the freshman's behalf. Jones offered to bring Swope on his postgame radio show and encouraged his 37,000 Twitter followers to tweet in protest with the hashtag #OccupyKroger.
Not only did hundreds of Kentucky fans follow Jones' advice, some also took the movement a step further. Two Wildcats fans made #OccupyKroger signs and stood with them in front of the Kroger in Ashland, Ky.
To Kroger's credit, the supermarket chain didn't take long to realize the PR folly that not paying Swope would be. A representative of Kroger called Jones within an hour of the game ending on Saturday and asked him to tell Swope that he would receive the $10,000.
"That's the Big Blue Nation for you," Swope said. "They supported me, and I really do appreciate it."
Swope is supposed to call Kroger on Monday to find out how he'll receive his money. He plans to put most of it toward paying for school.
The entire episode was surreal for a freshman whose greatest claim to fame before that was dressing up in a referee's costume for Kentucky games this season. Swope first did that for the North Carolina game in December and he's stuck with it ever since after he received positive feedback from his fellow students.
"It's definitely become my trademark," Swope said. "I think I'll have to do it for the rest of my college career."
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