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OTHER OPINION: Smiths’ loss is hockey’s gain

Though it may not have been the sort of ending to a story that one local family might have hoped for, it is a happy ending that will benefit more kids than simply those in that family.

We’re talking about the Smith family of Owatonna and the so-called $50,000 “miracle shot” that Nate Smith took at the hockey rink at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault. The contest required that a person in the crowd, whose name was chosen at random, shoot a hockey puck from center ice into a 1.5-inch-by-3.5 inch hole — a hole that’s barely bigger than the puck itself. Somehow, 11-year-old Nate made the shot and won $50,000.

The only problem was that it wasn’t Nate’s name that was chosen for the shot. It was Nick Smith’s, Nate’s identical twin brother. The boys’ father, Pat Smith, came clean the day after the contest and let organizers know about Nate’s substituting for his brother, and he did so knowing that it could mean forfeiting the 50 grand.

And that’s exactly what happened. The Smith family was informed by Odds On Promotions, the company that insured the contest, that they wouldn’t be receiving the money. People around the country — yes, it did make national and even international news — thought the company should have paid out the money. After all, the shot was a miracle on ice. But the company was right not to have paid it out. Nate’s shooting for his brother was a breach of contract and an insurance company cannot and should not pay a claim when there’s a breach of contract.

What gives this story a happy ending, however, is the fact that Odds On Promotions did something the company did not have to do: It donated $10,000 to both the Owatonna and Faribault youth hockey programs. That money will surely be put to good use helping children in both communities learn more about and further appreciate the game of hockey. It was a goodwill gesture on the company’s part, and we applaud them for it.