One Dubuque third grader is making national news with a video that has gone viral in less than three days.
Nine-year-old Mason Kunkel's Dubuque Youth Sports Association basketball league game on Saturday, Feb. 9 started off like any other basketball game.
"We played good," Mason said at his Dubuque home Tuesday. "Other people made some shots. I made some shots."
However, things heated up when the game went into overtime. With the score tied at 24-24 and two seconds left on the clock, a teammate passed Mason the ball.
"I knew that there was two seconds left so I had to turn around and throw a shot up quick," Mason said.
What happened next is the stuff of legends and viral videos. From halfway down the court, Mason whipped the ball toward the basket -- and made it.
"I didn't know I made it until everybody started cheering," he said.
Mason's dad Gary Kunkel watched the winning shot.
"I was doing score keeping there in the middle of the court there, so I got a good view of it," he said. "As soon as it left his hand, I thought, 'This shot looks pretty good.'"
The video of the Feb. 9 game didn't go online until late this past Saturday night. Kunkel said the family joked about it ending up on ESPN's SportsCenter. How prophetic those words turned out to be. Soon after it went up, the clip went viral. As of Tuesday night, it had more than 135,000 views.
"I have heard from friends in Colorado, Florida, California, all over," Kunkel said. "They've been calling and said that they've seen the video online."
By Tuesday morning, Mason's buzzer-beater fell fifth in ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays.
"He's a very humble kid," Kunkel said. "Just even watching it on SportsCenter and stuff, it's kind of like, 'Oh, that's neat,' but nothing going to his head."
As far as advice for other young basketball players, Mason has this to say: "Always try your hardest and never give up."
Take it from the boy who fired the shot seen 'round the world.
"It's just been incredible," Kunkel said. "It's crazy getting calls and e-mails from ABC and NBC and ESPN. All the news outlets. USA Today."
Mason attends third grade at Kennedy Elementary School. In addition to basketball, he also plays baseball and football. Mason has three older sisters.
The first stop was the World War II Memorial, where one family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of their veteran, Lyle Swan. They drove all night from Kentucky and Tennessee just to see him arrive.More >>
The first stop was the World War II Memorial, where one family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of their veteran, Lyle Swan. They drove all night from Kentucky and Tennessee just to see him arrive, and cheered as he rolled close.More >>
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Sandy Youngblut at 319-291-1259. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.