After rumors started swirling aboard the carrier John C. Stennis that a shipwide bingo game would give away a Super Bowl trip, Presley Whitworth called her father in Mississippi from somewhere in 5th Fleet.
They weren’t making plans to meet up in New Orleans. The opposite, really.
“Me and my daddy always say, ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all,’” said Whitworth, 20, an aviation structural mechanic airman.
Whitworth played in the Jan. 18 bingo game — holding nine of the 2,400 cards sold — anyway.
And for once, father didn’t know best.
She and Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Michael Farmer each won a trip to Super Bowl XLVII by filling their respective bingo cards in the final, “blackout” drawing. Both will leave Stennis for Bahrain on Jan. 30, then make the 25½-hour trek to New Orleans. They’ll each get a hotel room, a VIP tour, the chance to visit the NFL Experience — a traveling football-focused theme park — and a ticket to the Feb. 3 game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
Farmer, 33, of Yakima, Wash., will meet friends. Whitworth, of Pontotoc, Miss., will see her mom and dad, who’ll make the six-hour trip south.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Whitworth said of the win. “I stared at my ticket for awhile.”
The game was broadcast via the ship’s TV network; the winners called into the studio to announce they had the winning number — the long-distance equivalent of yelling “Bingo!” — then raced to collect their winnings.
“I took a victory lap through the mess decks,” said Farmer, 31, a fan of the Seattle Seahawks — a second-round playoff casualty. Whitworth, a self-described “big Manning girl,” suffered through the Denver Broncos’ early exit.
The trips, paid for by MWR funds, cost a combined $13,000. Bingo cards cost $10 for a set of three; both sailors said they bought multiple sets.
Stennis “Fun Boss” Chris Cation came up with the giveaway, pitching it over Christmas brunch and finding support all the way up the chain of command. He said he wasn’t aware of similar superprizes offered by carriers or other Navy units.
“We’re the Stennis, and we like to do some things differently,” he said.