IOWA CITY, Iowa — Carson King’s whirlwind journey from a guy with a funny sign on ESPN’s College GameDay to a celebrated multi-million-dollar fundraiser came to a satisfying conclusion Friday in Iowa City.
King, an Iowa State fan, presented a check of more than $3 million to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
The fundraiser began on Sept. 14th as a joke. King held up a sign during ESPN’s College GameDay visit to Ames for the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game asking for beer money. It read, “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished” and listed his Venmo account.
After hundreds of dollars poured in to his account, King decided to donate the money to the children’s hospital at the University of Iowa. His efforts went viral and Venmo and Busch Beer pledged to match the donations he received in his account through the end of September.
By the end of the month, including the matching gifts, King had raised $2,959,336. The total was so close to $3 million that West Des Moines-based Doll Distributing, the local distributor for Busch Light decided to make up the difference. The company says 13 different distributors from across the state chipped in to reach the final tally of $3,004,202.14.
In total, over 35,000 Venmo users donated. Donations came in from all 50 U.S. states. Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, California and Nebraska were the top five states that donated to the fundraiser. $600,000 in donations came from Iowa alone.
Suresh Gunasekaran, the CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, thanked King for everything he had done.
“We promise to be good stewards of this amazing gift. It will leave a lasting legacy as we continue to build the best children’s programs benefiting countless Iowa families and beyond for decades to come,” said Gunasekaran.
Details on how the money will be used are not finalized, but the Stead Family Children’s Hospital plans to use the funds to ease financial pressures of families with hospitalized children, support the Child Life service program that provides emotional support for children during hospitalization, and invest in the latest technologies.
King says he was overwhelmed by the generosity and support from people around the state and the country.
“’Iowa Nice’ is a real thing. There are thousands and thousands of great people out there. It really puts faith back in humanity. I’m just glad I can help out in any way,” said King.