At 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, a line of thousands of sleepy-eyed Oklahoma State fans snaked from the school's ticket window all throughout the concourse of Gallagher-Iba Arena.
They were all there to collect their holiday gift from billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens: free Oklahoma State basketball tickets.
Oklahoma State announced Tuesday that Pickens purchased the remaining 4,000 unsold tickets to the Cowboys' marquee New Year's Eve matchup against Gonzaga and asked that the school distribute them for free on a first-come, first- served basis Wednesday morning. The tickets were gone in less than 90 minutes Wednesday morning even though fans who showed up in time could only obtain up to six tickets per person.
"I thought long and hard about what gift I could give my fellow OSU Cowboys this year," Pickens said in a release. "I couldn't find enough basketballs, but I did find enough basketball tickets. Let's put them to good use, pack Gallagher-Iba for the Gonzaga game, and put a great exclamation point on a promising OSU basketball season."
Gestures like this one are why every college fan base in America should be jealous that Oklahoma State has the allegiance of Pickens. Not only does he fund practice facilities and stadium renovations the way other mega-boosters do, he also generously gives back to the fans in ways that surely endear him to the Stillwater community.
One look at Pickens' mentions on Twitter on Wednesday morning show that the gesture was appreciated.
Wrote @OSUFreak82, "Thank you so much. Best Christmas present ever!" Added @Jengel629, "Thank you @boonepickens for the tickets! Can't wait to give back someday like you do to the greatest university in the nation!"
About the only person who won't be grateful for Pickens' generosity is Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
A New Year's Eve game often draws a modest crowd simply because ticket holders are out of town or have other plans. Now Gonzaga can expect a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd at Gallagher-Iba straight out of the Eddie Sutton era.