It’s okay if you don’t. In a lot of ways, she’d be happy to know you’ve forgotten. Karen Kuldys wants to put it all behind her anyway.
But let’s refresh your memory.
It was an early July night in Winnipeg and the Blue Bombers were hosting the Toronto Argonauts. What happened during that game might go down as the most expensive Canadian Football League penalty in history.
Karen Kuldys was in line to win $1 million when the Toronto Argonauts’ Martese Jackson ran back a kickoff for a touchdown against the Blue Bombers in the second quarter on Thursday night in Winnipeg.
It was all part of the Safeway/Sobeys $1,000,000 Touchdown to Win contest — if any two kickoffs are returned for touchdowns in a CFL game, a lucky fan would win the money. But it was all for naught when a controversial blocking penalty flag was thrown just 25 yards from the end zone during the second touchdown return.
“My heart just sank and I thought, ‘Oh my God, how close could I get to $1 million,'” the Winnipeg resident said hours after it happened. “You got to be kidding me. My stomach is in knots just thinking about it right now.”
Now all these months later, Kuldys is reflecting on what life has been like in the wake of what might have been.
“It’s been overwhelming. I’ll never forget this,” she said. “How often do people almost win a million dollars.”
Penalty causes controvery, creates prizes
The penalty called created quite the controversy, so much so the CFL’s commissioner called Karen to apologize and offer her tickets to the Grey Cup.
“I felt angry because too many people were telling me what to do, that I should have hired a lawyer. That the play was fixed,” she said.
The prizes she would receive just kept coming in the following hours after the game.
She would also receive free groceries for a year, 500,000 in free Air Miles, and had also won a $25,000 home theatre system due to one touchdown kick return. The Bombers gave her season tickets too. Kuldys has been to most of the games.
“Life goes on and I’m very grateful for all of this,” Kuldys said. “I don’t want to dwell on the past. What happened, happened.”
Kuldys has become somewhat of a celebrity at the restaurant she works at in Winnipeg. She’s a full-time chef at A&W and also works two shifts a week serving at another restaurant.
“Every shift since July someone has said something about it,” Kuldys said. “The regulars start talking about it. Or some of them bring in a relative and I have to go through the same old story over and over. They don’t seem to want me to forget about it.”
Potential rematch of the Million Dollar Nightmare?
Kuldys and her husbad Stan Kuldys are big Bombers fans. They’re hoping the team can get on a playoff run and into the Grey Cup. The Bombers host the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday in Winnipeg.
While Karen is starting to calm down over the call, Stan is still torn up about the whole thing.
“I’ve watched that play a few times. I’ll take this to my grave,” he said. “It’ll always be in the back of mind. We should have had that $1 million.”
It there’s anything that might dull the pain of what Karen and Stan both say is a football season they’ll never forget, it would be the Bombers winning the Grey Cup. The last time the team did it was 1990.
“I hope the Bombers make it,” Kuldys said. “I’d love to see Winnipeg against Toronto. That’s the game that started all of this. Wouldn’t that be something. I’m kind of hoping for that.”