What’s it like to win $10,000 from a half-court shot? We asked someone who just made one

BYU’s ROC student section attempts to distract an Iowa State free throw shooter on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the Marriott Center.
BYU’s ROC student section attempts to distract an Iowa State free throw shooter on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the Marriott Center. | BYU Photo

All Matt Vance needed was a chance.

The BYU freshman from Ridgefield, Washington, had spent years perfecting the art of the half-court shot. He grew up practicing in church gyms, making bets with friends that he could drain from long range.

But he craved a bigger stage. He wanted to hit the Qualtrics half-court shot at a BYU game.

Tuesday night, as the Cougars hosted Iowa State, Vance was finally given his opportunity, and he didn’t waste it.

He launched a perfect bank shot to win $10,000 and send the Marriott Center faithful into hysteria.

“I’d been waiting for it,” Vance told the Deseret News. “This was my time.”

Vance had long dreamed of participating in the promotion. Attempting to manifest some good fortune, he told his roommates prior to Tuesday’s game that he’d be the one shooting from half court that night.

In order to be selected, however, he had to take a page out of BYU legend Jimmer Fredette’s playbook and create his own shot — literally.

“Before the game, I saw someone with a lanyard walking by, and I just asked her if I could shoot the half-court shot,” Vance said. “She said that it wasn’t her job to pick, but she called the guy who did and he said he hadn’t picked anybody yet, so they allowed me to do it.”

Vance was brought onto the floor at the under-four minute media timeout. His first shot attempt veered too far to the left, but all hope was not lost. Fate smiled upon him as he was granted another try.

You know what they say: second time’s the charm.

Vance banked in his redemption shot to cash his $10,000 prize and earned a massive ovation from the Marriott Center faithful as he went gleefully berserk.

“It was incredible, just pure joy,” Vance said of the shot. “I was confident, but pleasantly surprised at the same time.”

A lifelong Portland Trail Blazers fan, Vance did his best imitation of the “Dame time” celebration by pointing to an imaginary watch on his wrist, mimicking former Weber State star Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating heroics in the 2019 NBA playoffs.

“I’m still pretty salty that he got traded (to the Bucks),” Vance said of Lillard.

Vance’s phone has been blowing up with hundreds of messages since his shot, and he certainly enjoys the attention. It’s not every day that you accomplish a lifelong goal in front of 15,000 people, after all.

As for the prize money, Vance already knows how he’ll be spending his $10,000.

“Rent, tuition, definitely tithing, and probably a bit of Taco Bell,” he said.