Sixty-three-year-old Les Notestine of Anchorage hadn't played basketball in 40 years and had never chugged an energy drink in his life, but he did both Saturday -- all for a chance at a million dollars.
Notestine didn't leave Sullivan Arena a rich man -- he missed the 3/4-court shot worth a million dollars in the 14th annual Million Dollars Shot contest at the Shootout, a popular promotion sponsored by Vito's Auto Sales and Brown's Electric. In his lone attempt from about 70 feet, he heaved the ball rather than shot it, and it landed far short of the basket, near the free throw line.
Notestine also missed three shots from half court, with a 2010 Toyota 4Runner at stake. Then he missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a 2005 PT Cruiser on the line.
But don't feel too bad for the recent retiree. Notestine is going to be well-fed for the next year; his upcoming remodeling project is going to get a boost; any sore muscles incurred from heaving the ball will be taken care of -- and he's ready for a party.
Notestine sank 4 of 10 free throws to collect four smaller prizes -- dinner for two every week for a year from Guido's Pizza, a $1,000 shopping spree at Brown's Electric, a monthly massage from Hogan's Chiropractic and Un-do Stress, and a private party at the Woodshed.
Not a bad haul for a guy who hadn't touched a basketball for decades until Saturday.
"About 40 years ago I played one year with some friends," Notestine said of his basketball background.
Notestine spent two hours practicing at UAA prior to the championship game and confessed to being focused and nerve-free before he walked onto the Sullivan Arena court for his big moment -- something that maybe attributed to performance-enhancing substances.
"I took one of those 5-Hour Energy drinks for the first time ever," he said.
Notestine, who just retired from his job as a salvage buyer for Northwest Auto Parts, had one last chance at a big prize after he shot his free throws. He was given the choice of shooting two more times from the foul line for the PT Cruiser or letting other people take the shots for him. He chose the ringers -- Grace Christian girls basketball coach Emily Hale and South High girls basketball coach Bonnie Gurney -- but both of them missed.
Vito Ungaro, who has sponsored the promotion from the beginning, said he would have liked to have given away a car, which he has done in many of the promotion's 14 years. "I don't mind giving one away, but they gotta earn it," he said.
Men's field set for 2013
Indiana State Sycamores
Texas Christian Horned Frogs
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
A former champion and a school that played in the inaugural Shootout will play in the men's tournament next year.
Iowa, the Shootout champion in 1986 and the runnerup to Duke in 1995, is among the seven Division I teams that will join Division II UAA in the 2013 tournament. So will Pepperdine, which placed third in the first Shootout back in 1978.
Two coaches who made their mark as players will also bring teams to Anchorage -- Danny Manning of Tulsa and Tommy Amaker of Harvard.
Manning is a former Kansas star who made the Shootout all-tournament team as a freshman in 1984, and Amaker played at Duke and was the associate coach for the school when the Blue Devils won the 1995 Shootout.
Completing the field are Texas Christian, Indiana State, Denver and UAA.
For the four-team women's tournament, Georgetown and UC Riveside will join the Seawolves. The fourth team will be announced later, UAA athletic director Steve Cobb said.
Most Outstanding Player: Pierria Henry, Charlotte
Chris Braswell, Charlotte
Ian Clark, Belmont
Quincy Ford, Northeastern
Kyle Fossman, UAA
Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount
Terrence Williams, Charlotte
Warren Niles, Oral Roberts
Trevor Noack, Belmont
Joel Smith, Northeastern
Teancum Stafford, UAA
By BETH BRAGG