This is the best kind of beer buzz.
Carson King, 24, held up a sign on national TV during a University of Iowa vs. Iowa State football game last weekend asking for viewers to Venmo him cash for a case of Busch Light. He and his “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished” sign got picked up by ESPN’s “College GameDay” broadcast on Saturday morning — and raised $400 in just an hour.
“I made the sign as a joke, and just hoped maybe a couple of people in the crowd would see the sign and maybe toss me $20 so I could get a case of Busch Light,” King, an Iowa State fan, told MarketWatch. But after raking in $600, King and his family decided to donate the windfall to the rival University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which is adjacent to the football field in Iowa City. (In fact, during Iowa home games, fans do the “Iowa Wave” for the kids watching the game from the hospital windows.)
King’s mom and his brother shared his fundraiser and Venmo handle (@Carson-King-25) on Facebook FB, -0.59% and Twitter TWTR, -1.12% — and that’s when the donations really started pouring in.
As of Friday morning, people had donated more than $200,000 to his fund. And if brewer Anheuser-Busch BUD, -2.10% and Paypal-owned PYPL, +0.32% money-sharing app Venmo both match the donations, as they have pledged to do on Twitter, the Busch Light lover will be handing over more than $600,000 to the hospital (minus the cost of a case of Busch Light, he cracked to MarketWatch, which runs $15 or $16.) Individuals have donated as little as 25 cents, and as much as $300, he said.
“It’s turned into something really cool, and a way to help families and to help the kids,” said King, who has taken a break from his studies to work as a casino security officer, and pay down some of his student loans. “It’s getting shared around the country, and we’ve had people from Canada and Australia [donate.] I actually got a message from someone in Poland on Facebook today, saying how great this story is.”
King has some fundraising experience under his belt; he has raised between $300 and $400 for the same children’s hospital by kicking up his heels in the Iowa State Dance Marathon. But his beer sign fundraiser is in a different league.
That’s in part because he was savvy enough to tweet at Anheuser-Busch and ask them to match the total number of donations that he collected. And the brewer is game, tweeting back that “this is the best thing we have read all year” and offering to match the funds, and even throw in some beer
.@CarsonKing2 this is the best thing we have read all year, we’re inspired.
We’re going to match your donation to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, and we’ll throw in some of that Busch Light you were looking for. https://t.co/NPPrPp6zJg
— Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) September 17, 2019
Venmo caught wind of the impromptu fundraiser, and offered to match the donations, as well. A company spokesperson told MarketWatch that, “We’re constantly amazed by the kindness of the Venmo community and what they’re able to achieve together, which is why we felt inspired to match the donation.
We see a lot of great stories, but this is one of our favs @CarsonKing2. Count us in for matching the donation to the hospital, too. #ftk?@BuschBeer @CollegeGameDay https://t.co/thS8JXOXC3
— Venmo (@venmo) September 17, 2019
Anheuser-Busch did not respond to MarketWatch requests for comment by press time. But Amy O’Deen, the interim executive director of the children’s hospital, said in a statement provided to MarketWatch that, “We are delighted that Carson has so thoughtfully decided to donate these funds to help the pediatric patients and families served by the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. This organic effort demonstrates the generosity and goodness of Iowans, uniting Cyclone and Hawkeye fans to make a difference for our kids. We are grateful for that support and for the matching gifts.”
King plans to present the grand total, which he expects to top six figures, to the hospital sometime next month. “They were really excited, they were so happy when I called to get ahold of someone, and we’re talking about having me take a tour of the hospital and meet some of the kids,” he said. “It’s just incredible to see what kind of a difference you can make when people band together.”
We’ll drink to that.