It’s undeniably the biggest sporting event of the year, one that most football fans only dream of attending. But for one lucky Navy veteran, a trip to Super Bowl LVI became a dream come true.
Eddie Cerda has been a diehard football fan for more than 15 years. He’s watched nearly every Super Bowl game ever since, except one he missed due to an assignment in Guam. Cerda served from 2012 to 2016 as a Hull Maintenance Technician in the Navy. Today, he’s studying journalism in his home state of California with hopes of eventually writing about sports for a living.
“I’ve always dreamed about going to the Super Bowl,” Cerda said. But with prices that start at roughly $5,000 per ticket, it’s just not feasible for most people. His trip to the big game was made possible by Vet Tix, which provides tickets to events of all kinds to active-duty military members and veterans.
From Disney on Ice to monster truck rallies, anything with a ticket can show up on the Vet Tix website. The organization never purchases tickets, mainly because they don’t have to. Donors love the concept of filling empty seats with veterans, active-duty service members and their families.
“Our tagline is ‘Give something to those who gave,’” said Steven Weintraub, chief strategy officer at Vet Tix. “That’s what we’re all about. That’s what we love to do every day.”
Vet Tix recently hit a big milestone, giving away their 11 millionth ticket. “As we’ve been growing and getting more donors, we’re able to give back even more than we had anticipated,” Weintraub said. “When teams and organizations find out about us, they get excited because they see how we’re able to give back to those who have sacrificed, and not just those individuals, but also their family members.”
11,000 people entered to win the coveted pair of Super Bowl tickets available on Vet Tix, but Cerda was the lucky winner. “I was going about my day and just trying to stay busy so I wouldn’t think about it,” he laughed. “…then I got a text saying I won.”
When asked if he was surprised, Cerda said yes and no. While the Vet Tix lottery system selects a random winner, “appreciation coins” can boost your chances. Vet Tix members automatically receive two coins per month, but there are many other ways to earn coins. From referring friends to submitting feedback after an event, there are plenty of opportunities. Each lottery requires a minimum of one coin to submit a ticket request. However, you can throw in as many coins as you wish (each one represents one chance to win). Cerda saved his for quite some time, allowing him to submit 3,500 coins for the Super Bowl lottery.
Cerda decided to bring his brother along to experience this event of a lifetime, solidifying a memory they will never forget. “The game was absolutely amazing,” Cerda said after the big matchup. “It was definitely a memorable moment.”
While he said he would have been happy with either team winning, he admitted that the Rams’ victory at home added to the experience. “The energy at SoFi Stadium was pretty awesome. When the Rams won, you could see fireworks going off in the surrounding neighborhoods,” Cerda said.
Analysts and fans agree that it was an exciting game until the very end, and for the Vet Tix team, there’s nothing more gratifying. “Anybody that signs up can be selected to go to any event, and we’re just thrilled that we were able to get these Super Bowl tickets,” Weintraub said. “We’re fortunate that we’re able to make these memories happen.”