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Boy Makes $50K Hockey Shot, But It's The Wrong Boy

Pat Smith and his twin sons, Nate and Nick, were at a charity hockey game Thursday when he purchased three $10 raffle tickets for a chance to hit a near-impossible hockey shot, with a $50,000 prize. One of his sons hit that shot — but as Pat told organizers the next day, it wasn't the one whose name was on the ticket.

The Faribault, Minn., arena was in a state of pandemonium after Nate Smith sent a hockey puck from center ice into the goal — the 3-inch puck traveled 89 feet down the ice and into a 3.5-inch hole in a board laid over the mouth of the goal.

There was just one snag: Pat Smith had written Nick's name on all three tickets. The identical twins, 11, had agreed that Nick was the best choice, because Nate had only recently had a cast removed from his arm. But Nick didn't want to stick around at halftime, and he told Nate to take the shot if his name was called.

That's just what Nate did, sending a wobbling shot down the ice. Here's a report on the shot by CNN:

"The puck fluttered and me and the linesman are like, there is no way this is going in," Cale Politoski told KEYC TV of Mankato, Minn. "It was going straight down the net and the linesman said, 'This has a chance,' and it went straight in."

Both of the twins were shocked. Pat Smith says that in the excitement, he went along with the swap — but he didn't feel right about it the next day.

"I just felt I had to do the right thing," he told ABCNews Monday. "I just think that honesty is more important than any prize or money you could get."

As for the prize money, it's not yet certain what'll happen. The insurance company that underwrote the event, Odds on Promotions, hasn't said whether it will pay the Smiths.

"It's not necessarily not going to go through," game organizer Vance Vinar Jr. told KEYC. "But they will investigate, and then get back to us and let us know what happens."

Pat Smith has told reporters that if the $50,000 prize comes to his family, they'll give some to charity and save the rest for the boys' college funds.

In February, a similar shoot-for-dollars event brought on an angry controversy, when Richard Marsh squeezed a shot into a small slot in a goal, from the opposite end of the ice. But at that event, in Indiana, Marsh was disqualified because he was deemed to be over the line at the other end of the rink.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.