Sean Murray ’80 was waiting for his teenage daughter to finish a school exam Friday morning before heading from his Cincinnati home to upstate New York for the holidays.
Shortly after breakfast, he received a phone call from SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum delivering once-in-a-lifetime news.
Murray was the winner of SUNY Cortland’s Super Bowl raffle.
“I don’t have that kind of luck,” said Murray, who moved back to the U.S. from Singapore in August. “I was dumb-founded. I thought it was a mistake.”
The grand prize includes two tickets to the Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans this February, as well as bed and breakfast accommodations and $1,000 to offset travel expenses.
The deluxe package is worth $4,400.
Murray’s prize came after Bitterbaum drew his name from a drum containing 299 raffle entries — a record for the annual contest, which began in 2009.
“What a way to start the holiday weekend,” said Murray, a Syracuse native who was planning to travel to his family’s summer home on Lake Ontario this weekend. “I’m trying to think back to whether I’ve won anything beyond a goldfish at a birthday party.”
Murray said the most valuable prize he had won before the Super Bowl package was a $7 payout from November’s record Powerball drawing.
“It’s just sinking in and it’s pretty cool,” Murray said, noting he wasn’t sure who in his family would use the tickets. He and his wife have three children between high school and graduate school.
The College acquired the Super Bowl tickets through its close ties with the NFL’s New York Jets. The team used the SUNY Cortland campus as its official training camp site in 2009, 2010 and 2012. The team plans to return in 2013 and possibly beyond that.
Raffle tickets for the Super Bowl package were sold at $100 apiece.
“With no expectation of winning I thought it was a great way to give back,” Murray said. “Cortland really set me up for the best years of my life.”
Murray, who lived in Singapore for the past seven years because of his wife’s work, holds a juris doctorate and a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University at Buffalo. His entire career has involved helping and giving back to others.
In addition to a law career, he also has worked as an elementary school teacher at a Montessori school, a law professor at the University of Dayton and the director of Prokids, a Cincinnati non-profit devoted to children in need.
“I’m so happy for Sean and I’m very grateful to all of those who purchased raffle tickets,” said Kimberly Pietro, SUNY Cortland’s vice president for institutional advancement. “This year we raised more than $25,000 from the raffle and will be able to use the proceeds to fund undergraduate scholarships, graduate assistantships and student programs.”
Murray said the news was a great way to end a whirlwind of a year that included his family’s summer move from Asia.
“This is a way for us to start off on a high note in 2013,” he said.