CLEVELAND - The Nashville TV writer, dumped by his girlfriend after telling her he had cancer, launched a contest to give his $8,000 Super Bowl tickets away to the person who gained him the most Twitter followers. But, one email changed the rules.
Jason Elia was diagnosed with cancer in November, after purchasing $8,000 Super Bowl XLVI tickets. When he told his girlfriend of five months that he was sick, she dumped him -- right before he was planning to pop the question.
In a podcast with The Whiskey Brothers, Elia told them his girlfriend said "it was too much stress for her."
After the break-up, Elia began tweeting about what happened. He said after his ex heard about the #WinMyExsSuperBowlTickets she texted him: "Hey, you bought those with me in mind. I should get them."
That's when he decided he'd give the tickets away to the person who gained him the most Twitter followers. Within just a few weeks, Elia went from 5,000 followers to 14,600 and growing.
Early Tuesday morning, he announced on the podcast who won the two seats in section 126 at Lucas Oil Stadium. But when he made the announcement, he explained why he changed the rules.
"I changed the rules because I got an email that tugged at my heart strings and I decided to give the tickets to that person," said Elia, who hired someone to track who was gaining him the most followers on the social media site. "I would've won my own contest," he joked.
The email that won Elia over was from a father who told him about his son's illness. Elia didn't get into specifics, but said the father reached out to him through a private charity in hopes of winning the tickets and taking his son to the Super Bowl game.
"The dad wanted to take his son, but couldn't afford to," said Elia in the podcast. "It was a moment that I wanted to share with (my girlfriend), just changed a little bit."
They took a shot, Elia said, "and I thought why not make a dream come true?"
On his Twitter account Tuesday morning, Elia posted: Thank you to everyone. It's over now though. You're all free to unfollow. Goodnight.
But it seems just the opposite is happening. Elia now has over 22,280 followers and a story that's sweeping across the country.
So what will Elia do with so many Twitter followers? With strong ties to the Houston area, he plans to promote candle.org -- the Candlelighters. It's an organization whose mission is to provide emotional, educational and practical support to children with cancer, along with raising awareness about the childhood disease.
But is it a story too good to be true? That's what the UK Daily Mail is reporting. The publication claims Elia's "ex-girlfriend" said she was never in a relationship with Elia, they met once and there were no Super Bowl tickets. What do you think? Tell us on Facebook.