Deseret News
FILE: BYU and Utah fans cheer side by side in Salt Lake City Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012.

What started out as a good-natured, rivalry-fueled wager and then turned into a reneged bet has resulted in a heartwarming and humorous story.

Let’s start with the happy ending.

Because of the aforementioned bet — which involved an overly confident Ute fan betting a hopeful BYU fan $500 that the Cougars wouldn’t be ranked again before the program was dissolved (his assumption) — the Hayestough Foundation has received more than $6,000 in donations in less than 24 hours. This is a charity that former Utah standout Steve Tate and his wife created while their late son battled cancer.

“The Hayestough foundation is extremely grateful to be a part of an amazing community of both Utah and BYU fans,” Tate tweeted on Tuesday morning. “Through an unpaid bet you raised $6,065 in less than 24 hours. Most importantly, 100% of it goes to helping kids/families fight cancer. #hayestough

This charitable jackpot and warm-fuzzy event began when BYU fan Geoff Johnston and an anonymous University of Utah fan who goes by the moniker @DenverUte put $500 (real or fake money was apparently up for debate) leading up to this past Saturday’s game at Camp Randall. (DenverUte had bet as much as $25,000 at one point.)

After BYU shocked sixth-ranked Wisconsin and entered the Top 25 this past weekend, @geoffjBYU reminded his Ute Twitter rival about the bet.

“Well, well, well. Look who cracked the AP top 25, @DenverUte,” he wrote. “So now the moment of truth … you still good for that $500?” Johnston said he’d donate it to charity if it helped his Ute peer fork over the funds. (This would be a good time to remind kids reading at home that betting is not legal in Utah.)

DenverUte made it clear he was not going to pay up, and admitted, “I got owned, didn’t think there was a chance that BYU would beat WISCONSIN, let alone be ranked.” He also said he wasn’t going to “save face” and give “the (not nice word) BYU fan Jeff with a G” any money.

DenverUte jokingly offered to allow former BYU linebacker and Twitter/U-Y rivalry rabble-rouser Derik Stevenson to “come beat me up” instead of paying $500.

“If I actually had a relationship with any of you, it might be a different scenario,” DenverUte added. “But most people on Twitter are idiots and I couldn’t care less about you. Twitter is great.”

Turns out, some of the Twitter “idiots” and non-idiots are also great.

The charitable efforts — and bet recompensation plan — began in earnest when Utah fan Chris Enger chimed in with an idea. He wanted to help atone for the welching Ute fan and show that he's not representative of the fan base.

"We should all put a little in to pay to a charity of Geoff’s choice to cover it," Enger wrote.

When @Jonnyj20 asked which charity Johnston preferred to support, he decided to heed someone else's advice and pay it forward to "that Steve Tate charity in honor of his boy. I liked that one."

"Well," Enger added, "let's see if we can all come together as fans and cover it."

"Ha. That would be quite the plot twist here," Johnston replied. "Just let me know — I can chip in too if this really becomes a thing."

9 comments on this story

To Tate's great surprise — and to the benefit of some heartbroken families with children fighting cancer — it really became a thing. Within hours, BYU and Utah fans — and perhaps some who don't associate with either school — united for a good cause and far surpassed the $500 total.

Tate playfully kept a running tally on his Twitter account.

Finally, here’s one last laugh from DenverUte, who had some fun at his own expense (perhaps $500 worth of fun) on his Twitter bio:

"If you make a bet with me on Twitter and win, I won’t pay you. But donate to #hayestough to make up for it."