The Kansas high school basketball coach who blasted to Internet stardom after making a dizzy, blindfolded, half-court shot will be, as promised, heading to the NCAA tournament after all, after the local community banded together to award him tickets for the feat.
In a live interview with "Good Morning America" today, Joel Branstrom was all smiles as he talked about heading to this year's Final Four games in Indianapolis.
"The community pulled together, and they generated an opportunity for my family to go to the Final Four," he said, surrounded by his students.
Branstrom, the girls' coach at Olath Northwest High School and former University of Kansas Jayhawk walk-on, was the target last week of a schoolwide prank when the student body told him that if he hit a half-court basketball shot while blindfolded after he was spun around several times, he would win tickets to the NCAA Final Four in March.
If he missed, the gym would cheer wildly and make him believe he had hit the shot, then laugh along as he unwittingly celebrated his failure.
"I knew something was going on. It was a little fishy," Branstrom said, adding that he figured "they were going to pie me in the face too."
Instead, Branstrom went and ruined everything. To everyone's surprise, he made the seemingly impossible shot. The gym still erupted with cheers but out of sheer astonishment.
Branstrom told ESPN he didn't believe it himself for a long time after the shot.
The only problem was the students never had the Final Four tickets they had promised. Instead, they got him a gift certificate to a Mexican restaurant.
A video of the prank-gone-wrong quickly went viral and Branstrom became something of a local celebrity by Monday.
The community showed its support for the newly Internet famous coach by pulling together to send him and his family to the NCAA Final Four, just as promised.
"Good Morning America" asked Branstrom to repeat the shot on live television. He aimed and took the shot but it bounced off the rim.