By: Jordan Bontke
Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 08, 2023
and last updated 6:30 PM, Feb 08, 2023
A national non-profit that helps give veterans and service members a chance at ticketed events was able to secure the hottest ticket in the Valley — the Super Bowl.
Nearly 15 years ago, Veteran Michael Focareto was lucky enough to watch the New York Giants upset the near-perfect season of the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in Glendale.
He looked around, noticed some empty seats, and thought he’d like to give those seats to veterans… and that’s how Vet Tix was born.
With the slogan, “Give something to those who gave,” Chief Strategy Officer Steve Weintraub says over the past 15 years, they’ve given out over 15 million tickets to veterans.
2022 was a record-breaking year for them when they were able to give out more 3.8 million tickets coming out of the pandemic.
The tickets are typically donated by the teams, venues, organizations, or even Ticketmaster or Live Nation.
Events range from a night at the theatre, a trip through Barrett-Jackson Car Auction, concerts, and even the Super Bowl.
Gian Watt won tickets to Sunday’s big game. He’s a former Arabic linguist with the Army who now lives in Glendale. He says when he was first notified he won a pair of tickets, he thought it was a scam at first because he’s never won anything before.
“I couldn’t believe it. I read it about three times. I did the fist pump, did my happy dance around the kitchen,” said Watt.
Some tickets are first come first serve, but for high-demand events like the Super Bowl, Taylor Swift or Beyonce, veterans put digital coins in a lottery. Coins are given when they sign up. More can be accrued if you post about it once you get to the event.
“[If] you’re holding a ‘Thanks Vet Tix’ sign, you get even more coins,” said Weintraub.
The more coins you use in the lottery, the higher your chances of getting picked.
Like Justin Terhune who wagered his whole bank of over 2,300 coins, he too is going to the Super Bowl.
“I was like, ‘Holyshiznikes!’ I’m still in disbelief. Like I got a text message. I told my wife like, ‘We’re going to the Super Bowl’ and she was like ‘No no,’” he said.
While away from their families on deployment or training, Vet Tix aims to allow former and current service members a chance to make up for lost time at an event they won’t soon forget.
Weintraub shared a story of a vet who took another vet to a NASCAR race. After the event, the plus one turned his buddy and said something to the degree of having suicidal thoughts until he was invited to the race.
Typically, the tickets given to the Tempe-based non-profit are in blocks, so veterans sometimes sit together. The comradery can help former service members intergrade back into civilian society.
Once in those seats, there’s a reminder of all the sacrifices they’ve made to allow these events to happen.
“For a football fan, this is a dream,” said Watt.