Father Teaches Sons a Hard Lesson in Honesty

A couple of weeks ago in Minnesota, Pat Smith and his 11-year-old twin boys, Nate and Nick, went to a charity hockey game. Mr. Smith bought three raffle tickets for $10 each for a chance to win $50,000 by making a shot from the center of the rink at halftime. He wrote Nick’s name on all three tickets; Nate had just recently had a cast removed from his arm and figured Nick has the better chance of making the shot. Come halftime, one of Nick’s tickets was drawn, but he had left during halftime, telling Nate to take the shot if his name was called. And that’s what Nate did, amazing the crowd by making a shot that had to go 89 feet and slip through a 3.5 inch gap made in a board that was placed across the mouth of the goal. Euphoria and pandemonium ensued. According to a report by NPR:

Both of the twins were shocked. Pat Smith says that in the excitement, he went along with the swap — but he didn’t feel right about it the next day.

“I just felt I had to do the right thing,” he told ABCNews Monday. “I just think that honesty is more important than any prize or money you could get.”

So Nate came forward and told the truth to the game’s organizers, who consulting with the insurance company that underwrote the event, decided to not give the boys the money but rather to donate $40,000 to youth hockey leagues.

The dad, Pat Smith, told Today that coming forward was not only the right thing to do, but also a valuable lesson for his sons: “They learned that honesty is always the best policy, and you can never go wrong telling the truth.”

“Some people wouldn’t tell the truth, so it’s cool that we did,” Nate Smith added.


Boy Makes $50K Hockey Shot, But It’s The Wrong Boy

No Cash For Kid Who Made $50,000 Hockey Shot (@NPR)

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Sebastian September 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

Wow… Does it matter which one made the shot… They’re twins. And besides technically the organizers would’be had to give the money to who ever made the shot… I think they figured nobody could make that shot and it woudn’t cost them a thing, but when the kid made the shot, they were in the hope and were relieved that they found a way to keep the money. What a shame.

Edman68 September 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm

These kids showed moral courage. Dad must be swelling w/ pride. The insurance company was lacking in its’ moral courage to give the kids the prize. No surprise there. A book that my father had, that I read from cover to cover, is called “As A Man Thinketh”, by James Allen. Knowing my father liked that book and seeing all the great lessons therein has helped me be the man I am today.
Way to go boys! You have more moral fibre and courage than most men do. God Bless!!!

Mantuitive September 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Honesty is the best policy. For insurance companies, especially. I really wonder if I would have done the same but kudos to this father for teaching his sons a life long lesson that I’m sure they will recall with fondness and affection (like when he tells them he can’t afford to help them buy them their first cars)

MJCinc September 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I don’t understand what the big hub-bub about the insurance company is. All the article says is that the father consulted with the insurance company about the event. It doesn’t say that they did anything immoral or dishonest, as it can be inferred that they were unaware of the switch until Mr. Smith came to them. If anything, it implies that they advised the family to donate the money. Is that somehow a bad thing?

Stephen September 4, 2011 at 9:42 am

“If anything, it implies that they advised the family to donate the money”

I think you’ve misread that, it says the company managed to save itself $10,000 by not honouring the original prize. The prize was $50,000 and they donated $40,000 to charity.

Stephen September 4, 2011 at 9:49 am

Are my comments being deleted? This has been happening for a while now.

Kerry Adams September 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Sorry, while I can appreciate the concern, I don’t actually see where the dishonesty was anyhow?

They bought 3 tickets to shoot, the person with the name on them wasn’t there at the time, and someone else stood in to take the shot. What does it matter – who – took the shot?

Pierre September 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm

That kind of moral fortitude should be followed by most of congress and partlament. They should get a statue for what they have done.

Russ September 5, 2011 at 8:10 am

I applaud the father for doing the right thing, no matter the cost. In our culture we’ve allowed “small” lies that ultimately lead to bigger lies and we are left scratching our heads wondering why people would act that way. Just look at OJ Simpson or ENRON. We think what they got away with is wrong because it was a “big” lie, but a lie is a lie. It is good to see that a dad was willing to take the chance at losing the prize to tell the truth. If only the rest of America could have the same moral fortitude.

Lowdown September 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm

It is not as if the father brought in a ringer to take the shot. It was the boy’s twin brother who was recovering from a broken arm. If anything, that made the shot’s potential success less likely. It is great that the father and sons revealed the truth. The story would have had a perfect ending if the greedy insurance company rewarded their honesty by coughing up the money. Instead, they breathed a sigh of relief that they could manage to keep $10,000 in their coffers. I guess that is the other, less heartwarming, life lesson learned here.

mako September 6, 2011 at 7:04 am

Not to worry,I’m sure they will reap the benefits of being honest from other “venues” now that this has made national news. I do not see the “moral” point here to begin with. Had the father wanted to be honest sans the publicity, he should have simply said that the son who’s name was on the ticket was temporarily indisposed and forfeited the chance at the shot.Odds are they would have allowed the substitution in the first place.
Being told of the switch as an afterthought by the father gave them the option to renege on the deal;which was honored to some extent.

Brian September 9, 2011 at 4:01 am

I hope they at least refunded the man for the cost of the tickets. Sheesh.

Frank September 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Honestly I’m with the guys saying the dad should have kept his trap shut. If it was a situation where someone could have been hurt, I’d be all for it, but this is kind of stupid. If honesty is so important, why didn’t he inform the individuals hosting the competition beforehand? Its hardly dishonest to let a twin (I’m assuming identical) take a shot instead of his brother, when they’re the same kid for all intents and purposes, especially when the one taking the shot is recovering from a broken arm.

CoffeeZombie September 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm

In a way, it’s good that the kids didn’t get the money in the end. Why? Because it gives them the opportunity to learn that honesty is the right thing to do, even when you get screwed because of it. Because that’s often what happens in the real world; when you find someone’s wallet and bring it to them, they don’t always say, “Oh, gee, here, take 10% of this $1000 I had in reward.” They may be grateful, but you may not get any reward. And, yet, you are better off than you would have been with the $1000…or maybe even the $100.

Rachel September 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I agree with CoffeeZombie. They may look the same but they are not literally the same kid. The father did the right thing and the boys, to their credit, understand that. The sad part is that they were not rewarded in any way. I really think they might have given this fine family a modest donation to the kids’ scholarship fund or something along those lines. Even a public thank-you on their Web site would have made them feel good about their commendable honesty. I recall when my brother and I were small, we found a wallet in the street in front of our house, and there was about $60 inside. This was a fortune to two small kids in the 70s, but there was also a driver’s license inside, so our parents found the owner listed in the telephone directory. He came to the house with a pint of Haagen Daaz ice cream for us and a very sincere thank-you – I can still remember how grateful he was. We ate our ice cream and felt happy about helping a grown-up. I do think the insurance company might have done something to recognize the kids and their dad. But there’s no getting around the fact that doing the right thing is not always easy, nor does not necessarily lead to material rewards. If it did, then we wouldn’t make such a big deal about doing the right thing!

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