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The Globe and Mail

CFL fan's field goal good for $1-million

They called the contest Kick for a Million.

Unfortunately, they didn't add the asterisk at the end. The one that would have pointed to the fine print of the contest entries, where it was explained that it was $1-million paid out over 40 years in equal instalments.

That's $25,000 a year, tax-free, which isn't quite such a magical number. It's just a bit more than what the sponsor, Wendy's, pays the folks who sling its burgers.

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But give Brian Diesbourg all the credit in the world. He's no millionaire, but he certainly earned the income supplement that will run out just as he's eligible to collect a pension at 65.

The soccer player from Belle River, Ont., was presented with a daunting challenge. After having his name drawn at random from 200,000 entries, he would line up for four field-goal attempts during halftime of last night's Toronto Argonauts-Hamilton Tiger-Cats game at the Rogers Centre.

There were lesser prizes if he made the shorter kicks. If he was successful on the big one, the 50-yarder -- hardly automatic, even for a big-time professional place-kicker -- he'd collect the "million dollar" prize.

Diesbourg was limited to a half-hour of official practice this week with the Argos' kicker, Noel Prefontaine (an insurance company official stood on the sidelines, timing it to the minute). Then last night, in front of a crowd of more than 40,000, and a big television audience on TSN, he lined up for the kicks.

The first three had enough distance, but each of them sailed just wide, right. Then, with the crowd screaming and the announcers hollering, the show was paused for a commercial, which if they did it during the game, would be the tactic known as "icing" the kicker.

Diesbourg must be a cool customer indeed. He paced off his approach to the ball, reminded himself to try to pull the kick farther left, then let fly. The line drive bent perfectly between the uprights. It would have made any professional in any league proud.

"I didn't even know where to jump," Diesbourg said afterward, still a bit shell-shocked. "And everyone was all over me."

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At his practice session, Diesbourg had made five of eight 40-yarders before being told his time was up, which made some people take him a bit more seriously. But he didn't manage to convert any of his attempts from 10 yards farther out.

"I was hitting the 40s really good," he said. "I tried the 50s from the middle of the field, and it was really muddy."

No such problems last night on the artificial turf, with the roof closed. No problems, except for all those folks looking on, wondering whether he would change his life with one boot.

Did he know it was good right away? "When it left my foot, no," Diesbourg said. "I was just hoping that it went to the left."

He seemed nearly as thrilled with the celebration afterward, when a large group of Argonauts, including Prefontaine, surrounded him as though they'd all just won the Grey Cup.

"I loved it," he said. "It was sweet to be in the middle of those guys."

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He was holding one of those giant cheques they give to contest and lottery winners, with "One Million Dollars" written across the bottom.

Might want to try to cash that first thing this morning, at a bank where they didn't quite catch the play.

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