Iowa-Iowa State 2019 football game

Iowa defensive back D.J. Johnson breaks up a pass intended for Iowa State wide receiver Joseph Scates (9) during the first half of the two schools' college football game on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Ames, Iowa.

The crudely drawn sign was supposed to be a joke.

Carson King took Sharpie to poster board Friday night and sketched out a simple plea: “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished.” The 24-year-old added his Venmo handle and crossed his fingers that someone watching ESPN’s “College GameDay” the next morning would see the sign and send him a “couple dollars” for his favorite beer.

His wish was granted. And then some.

King said he had been sent about $67,000 by late Wednesday — a number that continues to grow — and his once-humorous endeavor has transformed into a fundraiser for a local children’s hospital, backed by major brands, including Busch.

“I was completely overwhelmed, I didn’t think anything like this would have a chance to happen,” King said Tuesday. “Especially when Busch commented. I was at a loss for words.”

“College GameDay” was broadcasting from Ames, Iowa, on Saturday as No. 18 Iowa faced unranked Iowa State.

The game had personal significance for King, who attended Iowa State but is taking time off from school to work. The school, he noted, has “a notoriously not-good football program.” King, who lives in Altoona, Iowa, and his friends drove up for “College GameDay” to “show how great the fans were and show the country Iowa is no joke.”

King said he brought his sign along on the off chance he appeared on TV. His strategic positioning near a stage paid off, and within half an hour of holding up the poster, he received more than $400 in contributions. As hundreds of dollars became thousands, King realized he had a chance to do “something a little more special than buy Busch Light.”

After consulting with his family, King pledged to donate his earnings (sans about $15, for one case of beer) to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. As his friends and relatives spread the message, the contributions to his Venmo multiplied. They kept coming in Monday, and by Tuesday afternoon, Busch Beer and Venmo took notice, each offering to match his donation to the hospital. The final amount that will be donated to the hospital was expected to be over $200,000.

King’s account will remain open for donations until the end of the month.

As attention to King’s poster-turned-charity reached its zenith, he said some of his friends wondered why he’d opted against holding on to some of the money. He works on the rapid response team at Prairie Meadows Casino, after all — why not spend it there?

For King, the answer was obvious.

“There’s a better purpose for it,” he said. “The kids deserve everything they can get. If I can give it to them, I’m going to give it to them.”

King called the hospital Monday morning and introduced himself.

“Oh my God,” a receptionist exclaimed, according to King. “I’ve wanted to talk to you!”

Both parties have since come up with a plan: King will visit at the end of the month, where he’ll receive a tour of the facility and meet some of the children the funds will benefit. He’ll carry with him a check.

And this time, the paper he wields won’t be a joke at all.

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