The love of the game has paid off for a Pennsylvania Furnace man.
Football fan Matt Hoffman landed $5,000 in a contest, coming in first out of 186,670 people who competed in the 2014 Pro Football Challenge.
About 180 Centre Daily Times readers picked winners of every NFL regular and postseason game in a national contest run by St. Louis-based Second Street Media, which partners with media companies across the country.
Hoffman tied for first place with 211 points, but won the tiebreaker by guessing a Super Bowl XLIX final score of 27-23 — just one point for each team off the actual score of 28-24.
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“I was definitely surprised,” he said. “I was trying to look for the other guy’s score, and they didn’t show it. It took a day or two for them to let me know I’d won.”
Hoffman had the choice of a trip for two to Hawaii, valued at $5,000, or the money.
“I’m taking the money,” he said. “I’ll probably pay off some bills and put the rest of it into savings.”
Hoffman’s victory could be attributed to his postseason run, in which he picked every game correctly.
There were tough choices, such as when he picked the Ravens to beat the Steelers — his favorite team — in the wild-card round.
“The hardest part was betting against my own team in the first round,” he said. “After Le’Veon Bell went down the week before, I had to make a pick I really didn’t like. I didn’t want to pick the Ravens. It was a tough one to swallow against Baltimore.”
The Super Bowl, with the Seahawks on the 1-yard line on second and goal with 26 seconds left, also put him on edge.
“That was nerve-wracking,” Hoffman said. “I had the Patriots winning, and it came down to the wire. When Seattle got the ball they got Lynch up to midfield, but I wasn’t worried yet. But when the guy juggled it off every limb of his body to catch it at the 5-yard line, it didn’t look good. When teams pull that off they usually win the game.”
When Lynch got to the 1-yard line, Hoffman though it was over, he said. “I was jumping up and down when the ball got intercepted.”
His fortunes in the contest, however, won’t push him toward betting more often.
“Every now and then I do real betting, but it’s nothing I do every week,” he said. “It’s something I do pretty much when I think I can win, but there’s no real team I bet on the most or anything. I try to be smart about it.”
Hoffman will, however, defend his crown.
“I’m definitely looking forward to next year.”
“I think the Packers will be a tough team to beat,” he said. “They’ll be hungry. You don’t know what will happen in the AFC. I’d like to see the Steelers win, but they have a brutal schedule. I think they’ll be lucky to go 8-8.”