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YouTuber MrBeast ups prize money for half-court shot winner

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Anthony Peterson, 27, made a half-court contest shot during a New York Knicks game this past Friday. A self-proclaimed "regular hooper," Peterson wowed the crowd of over 18,000 at Madison Square Garden with his 47-foot swish, the video of him sinking the shot with already over 5 million views on social media. The Knicks, valued at $4 billion by Forbes in 2019, awarded Peterson with $1,000... in lottery scratch-off tickets.

"[I made] $500 off the scratchers," Peterson told ESPN in an interview. "I always pull up from 45 feet and I consistently knock those shots down. People love it when I'm making em, they HATE me when I'm not. Hahaha, but the strategy was just to remain calm and do the same thing I do at the YMCA. It was just super loud so I had to find some zen."

After his half-court heave went viral, the internet began questioning Peterson's grand prize for his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A week prior, a fan at a Los Angeles Lakers game competed in a similar promotional contest, his successful shot netting him $100,000. Following the outcry on social media, Youtuber Jimmy "MrBeast" Donaldson, who recently spearheaded a fundraiser that collected over $21 million to help plant trees and is famed for his charitable endeavors, reached out to Peterson via social media to see if he could help out.

"Well, SportsCenter tweeted out the shot and he saw it there and tweeted telling people to tell me to DM him for $10,000," Peterson said. "I thought it was a joke but then my friends were like "NAH THIS GUY IS FOR REAL FOR REAL" so everybody kept tagging me in his tweets -- shoutout my friends! -- and eventually he followed and DM'd me and the rest is history."

Having previously collaborated with NFL star Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, MrBeast has become one of the biggest YouTubers on the planet with over 28 million subscribers on the platform. Recently, he awarded $1 million on his channel to a fan who kept his hand on the grand prize the longest, the winner lasting over 36 hours.

"I don't really have anything to add, I think the tweets speak for themselves," MrBeast said to ESPN when asked about sending $10,000 to Peterson. "I just like helping people."

On Monday, MrBeast officially sent Peterson $10,000 (and not in lottery tickets). While Peterson admitted it would be lying to say he didn't think about his prize from the Knicks compared those of other half-court shot winners, everything aligned in the end to make it a lifetime memory.

"Well, the old me would wonder "what if" but thanks to Malcolm Gladwell I've learned to just accept the moment for what it is," Peterson said. "Just experiencing that and getting to be a legend at MSG is insane. Also, the internet rode for me and then I got $10K off Mr. Beast so I can't complain."

And when asked how big of a Knicks fan he is, Peterson had to come clean -- though he enjoys watching the Knicks on occasion, he said he didn't learn any of his hoop skills from the 11-29 squad. His shot, which was nothing but net, came from watching his favorite player, Steph Curry.

"I'm actually a Warriors fan," Peterson said. "Steph is the best player in the league."