Education

Carson King's Children's Hospital campaign tops $3 million with the help of Busch Light distributors

'We did it,' the Altoona man tweets

Carson King waves to kids in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital after the first quarter of the game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Carson King waves to kids in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital after the first quarter of the game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Distributors across Iowa of Busch Light beer Wednesday chipped in the final $41,000 needed to push Carson King’s feel-good fundraiser for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital past $3 million.

“We did it,” tweeted King, 24, of Altoona, along with a picture announcing the final total.

When Anheuser-Busch and the Venmo digital wallet app committed Sept. 17 to match the donations King would raise for the Children’s Hospital, the total of contributions made then was under $10,000.

But with King’s announcement he’d keep fundraising through the end of the month — and with media far and wide airing stories on the campaign that started with King’s joke sign on ESPN College GameDay requesting money for more Busch Light — the total shot up, reaching $100,000 two days later.

By the end of the matching portion of the campaign — Sept. 30 — individual donors to King’s Venmo account raised just under $1 million — $920,112.10 — multiplying the Venmo and Busch matches 92 times from where they started.

With other corporate gifts and commitments, the campaign had generated $2.95 million as of Tuesday. Then the Iowa Busch Light distributors stepped in Wednesday.

“The nine family-owned wholesalers operating out of 13 locations across Iowa are proud to be part of this great cause,” a statement said.

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That statement from the distributors was quite different from a corporate statement Anheuser-Busch issued that brought swift and widespread criticism.

The brand announced last week that while it would make good on its pledge to match donations, it would cut any future ties with King.

Busch said he had made “multiple social media posts that do not align with our values.”

About the same time, the Des Moines Register reported that King had made two racist tweets years ago when he was a 16-year-old high school student, and he now apologized for them.

The Register, too, came under widespread criticism and readers found the reporter had himself made offensive tweets years ago. The Register said the reporter is no longer with the company.

As for Anheuser-Busch, a spokesman Wednesday told The Gazette, “I can confirm Busch will be matching Carson’s final balance of $920,112.10 in full.”

Officials with the Children’s Hospital are ironing out details of the money transfer — including whether it will be taxed, according to UI Health Care spokeswoman Molly Rossiter.

The university did not disclose how many direct donations it received in conjunction with King’s campaign or how much it has received to date from the campaign.

“We’re still working through all of these questions on our end,” Rossiter said.

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The university is planning an event to recognize “all of the generous support and the impact it will have on pediatric patients and their families” for the weekend of the next home Hawkeye game — which is Oct. 12 against Penn State.

Hospital officials are working with King to determine how to direct those funds he raised.

“We’re hoping to have all of those answers for a media event sometime next week,” Rossiter said.

Although King has suspended his Venmo account, which was still attracting Children’s Hospital donations past the campaign’s end, he is directing those still interested in donating to the givetoiowa.org website, which is run by the UI Center for Advancement — the institution’s independent fundraiser.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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