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Three App State students win ‘free ride’ for a year with College GameDay posters

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Last Updated on September 18, 2022 5:52 am

BOONE, N.C. — Capping off a week that Mountaineer fans won’t soon forget, three Appalachian State University students have won a year of tuition and fees for making the best posters at ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, held on campus Sept. 17.

Zackary Carr, a freshman from Gastonia, North Carolina, was named the winner of the poster contest with “The Only ATM That Lets You Withdraw $1.5 Million” — a clever play on the Texas A&M logo and reference to the guarantee the Aggies paid to host App State on Sept. 10. Junior Annilyn Impara, of Suwanee, Georgia, and Ethan Cagle, a sophomore from Hendersonville, North Carolina, were the two other finalists in the contest — learning on air that, they, too had been awarded a one-year free ride in front of thousands of college football fans on Sanford Mall and millions watching on ESPN.

Appearing at App State for the first time, College GameDay selected the university as its Week 3 destination after the Mountaineer football team defeated then-No. 6-ranked Texas A&M at College Station on Sept. 10, dominating the game clock and winning the game 17-14.

“This has been an unforgettable week for App State,” said Chancellor Sheri Everts. “After our football team won a tremendously important game against Texas A&M, College GameDay decided to broadcast from our campus for the very first time. The national publicity for our university earned by these student-athletes and their coaches is unparalleled in our university’s history, and it brings with it prestige and recognition for the entire university.”

College GameDay began recording and broadcasting of live shows from App State’s Sanford Mall on Friday, Sept. 16, including SportsCenter, The Pat McAfee Show and College Football Live, all leading up to the live College GameDay Built by The Home Depot broadcasted live from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday. Former App State student and country singer Luke Combs joined the show in its final hour as the Week 3 guest picker. 

In 2022, College GameDay is off to the show’s best two-week start for viewership since 2010, averaging 2.1 million viewers so far this season, according to ESPN. Week 2 in Austin alone saw a 26% increase from 2021 with the final hour averaging 2.7 million viewers.

College GameDay’s visit to Boone marks the show’s 96th different city visited and the second time the show has traveled to a Sun Belt school. App State is the 77th different school to host GameDay.

The night before the Saturday show, more than 1,000 App State students spent the night on Sanford Mall for a chance to be in line for the coveted spaces that ensure live television crowd coverage.

In addition to the three grand prizewinners, judges selected 25 additional posters as semifinalists, with 11 poster makers winning $500 Dining Dollars to be used at any App State Campus Dining location and 14 more winning $250 Dining Dollars.

“What better way to celebrate App State’s incredible school spirit than by showcasing the creative, positive energy on our campus?” said Everts. “App State is regularly recognized for the value we provide our students, yet we recognize that, without assistance, a college education is out of reach for many.”

App State’s Foundation is funding the tuition and fees giveaways with unrestricted donated funds. Jeannine Underdown Collins, chair of the Foundation and contributor to three scholarships, underscored the importance of funding to support student scholarships.

“Scholarship support is critical for so many students,” said Collins. “The Foundation works to ensure scholarship support is available for every student who needs assistance to attend App State. Every gift, in any amount, makes a difference.” 

Approximately 66% percent of App State students require some kind of financial assistance in order to attend the university.

The winning posters were selected by Stephanie Billings, executive director of Alumni Affairs; Dr. Shannon Campbell, dean of the College of Fine & Applied Arts; and Dustin Kerns, men’s basketball head coach. The events were held prior to App State's Sun Belt Conference opener against Troy at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Poster contest winner and App State junior Annilyn Impara, ESPN College GameDay reporter Jess Sims, poster contest winner and App State freshman Zack Carr, App State Chancellor Sheri Everts and poster contest winner and App State sophomore Ethan Cagle pose with the top three winning posters made for College GameDay at App State on Sept. 17. Photo by Chase Reynolds

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