When Navid Radfar stopped in to see his economics professor in late November, he was looking for advice on the proposal he was preparing to enter in the Mayo Business Plan Competition—a contest that features a $12,000 top prize. But it was Professor Howard Nelson’s advice on throwing a football that has already made Radfar $100,000 richer.
In December, Radfar won Dr. Pepper’s “Tuition Giveaway” promotion, in which contestants have 30 seconds to throw as many footballs as possible through a two-foot-wide circular target from five yards away. Following Nelson’s advice, Radfar used a chest-pass throwing technique—which many previous winners have used—rather than the more traditional overhand technique that most quarterbacks use.
The sophomore biology major said he was hesitant at first about following Nelson’s advice, fearing that doing so would make him look “goofy” on TV. The competition, which took place during halftime of the ACC Football Championship Game, was televised on ESPN.
But after tossing some footballs overhand at a practice target, and realizing his completion percentage throwing that way put him in more in Chad Henne territory than in Chad Pennington territory, Radfar set his ego aside and decided to take Nelson’s advice. The decision paid off handsomely.
“The tuition money will change my life and my future forever,” said Radfar, who plans to use the $100,000 to pay for medical school. His goal is to become a neurosurgeon. “This scholarship is going to give me the opportunity to shape my own future.”