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Iraq War Vet Loses Out On $2,000 Prize, Inspires A School

October 03, 2013

The New Mexico State University Aggies are not good at football.

Therefore their school president decided to run promos to get students to come. One promo was a $2,000 prize given to a random student who had attended a game. The lucky winner? Matthew Zajac.

The only problem was that Matthew wasn’t in the stands. In fact, the Iraq War vet who had the lower half of both his legs blown off in Iraq 6 years ago was at home taking care of his 87 year old grandmother, a duty he has taken over since his dad passed away.

The local newspaper, the Las Cruces Sun-News caught up with him to chat:

Because he wasn’t at the game, he won’t receive the prize.

“It’d be nice to win the money, but my priorities were elsewhere,” Zajac said. “It doesn’t get to me.” …

On Saturday, Zajac said his girlfriend’s co-worker texted them, letting him know his name had been drawn for the grand prize.

He’s not looking for sympathy, he said, noting it’s a good day when he “didn’t get blown up.”

“These things happen,” he said. “I’m not overly upset about it.”

Now THAT’S an American soldier!



Recently New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers made a generous offer: Students who attended the games of the woeful post-WAC Aggies would receive prizes, including $2,000 cash for a certain lucky someone if he or she happened to be in the stands after the third quarter.

This arrangement may’ve seemed too bald a quid pro quo for some people; one person whose job it is to get worked up and go on the TV called Carruthers the Worst Person in the Sports World. That allowed boosters to ride the crest of press and invite ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, the selfsame name-caller, to an Aggies game. On balance, maybe this was a win for otherwise winless NMSU.

Then came Saturday’s game, and a student’s name was called: Matthew Zajac. He wasn’t in the stands. He didn’t win the money. Newspeoples followed up to find out why.

Turns out Zajac was absent because he was taking care of his 87-year-old grandma, which he does since his dad died. And, oh, he happens to have lost the lower portion of both his legs when he got blown up in Iraq six years ago.

Read More at Deadspin