What started as a quest for a little extra beer money has evolved into a million-dollar gift to children in need.
Carson King went viral last week with a homemade sign asking viewers of ESPN’s College GameDay to donate to his Venmo account so he could afford to stock up on beer.
“Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished,” read the sign, which was seen on TV during the match-up between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones.
King, 24, told CNN he didn’t expect to make any money off of the “joke” sign, but somehow netted $400 within 30 minutes.
By the end of the day, he’d accumulated more than $1,000 — and quickly realized that the fast-growing cash would be put to much better use at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, as opposed to his wallet.
“With all the donations my @CollegeGameDay sign for @BuschBeer has received, I will be donating all but enough for a case of Busch Light to @uiowa Children’s Hospital,” he wrote.
With all the donations my @CollegeGameDay sign for @BuschBeer has received, I will be donating all but enough for a case of Busch Light to @uiowa Children’s Hospital. We’re at over $1,600.00 right now! @CycloneATH @WideRtNattyLt @ChrisMWilliams Venmo Carson-King-25— Carson King (@CarsonKing2) September 14, 2019
Within days, Busch Beer was on board too, and so was Venmo, with each company promising to match King’s donation.
With Busch and Venmo on board, the donations crossed the $1 million mark on Sunday, and King tells PEOPLE that as of Monday afternoon, the team is just shy of $1.1 million.
King says he chose the hospital because “they are amazing at what they do” in helping patients and their families, and also because it shares a special connection to his love of football.
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“The University of Iowa does the wave to the kids since the hospital overlooks the stadium, and being I’m an Iowa State University fan, I figured this would be my way to help out,” he says.
Patients and staffers previously expressed their gratitude in a video shared on Twitter that showed a large group holding thank you signs.
“What a week! We are overwhelmed by all of your generosity, and our hearts are full. A quick message for everyone who has donated to help the kids,” the tweet read.
The campaign will run through the end of September, and those with Venmo can donate @Carson-King-25. Those without Venmo can donate directly to the hospital.
“If they don’t have Venmo, they can donate directly to the hospital at uichildrens.org. Or any children’s hospital of their choice, because they all deserve whatever help they can get,” King says.
After the initial news of the campaign, however, the Des Moines Register reported that it found two racist tweets written by King in 2012.
King apologized in a press conference on Tuesday, saying, “I am so embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was 16 years old. I want to sincerely apologize.”
King added, “Thankfully, high school kids grow up and hopefully become responsible and caring adults.”
Still, Anheuser-Busch will no longer provide King with a supply of beer as previously stated.
“Carson King had multiple social media posts that do not align with our values as a brand or as a company and we will have no further association with him,” the company told PEOPLE in a statement. “We are honoring our commitment by donating more than $350,000 to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.”