JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What better way to spend an evening here than with a bunch of people trying to look like local hero Tim Tebow?
The Jacksonville Suns, Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, made that happen Friday night as 5,262 fans packed the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville for a Tim Tebow look-alike contest.
Local high school student Jacob Carter, a dead ringer for the former Florida Gators star in more ways than one, claimed the contest’s grand prize: two tickets to see Tebow and the New York Jets visit the Jacksonville Jaguars next season.
Carter donned a gray Reebok workout shirt with jeans and two wristbands representing the Christian faith. His hairstyle was nearly identical to Tebow’s, and afterward he insisted he hadn't changed it for the contest.
The Tebow comparisons don’t stop with looks. Carter is the junior varsity quarterback for Baker County High School in nearby Glen St. Mary, Fla. His playing style is even similar to the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner.
“I run the ball. I don’t throw,” Carter joked. “I’m not horrible [at throwing], but I see myself kind of like Tebow in a way because I can run better than I can throw.
“My grandma saw this on the Internet, and I told all my friends about it and they told me to do it. Everybody kept telling me I was going to win.”
After being introduced on the field and being serenaded by “Tebow” chants, Carter spent part of his 15 minutes of fame shaking hands with Tebow fans on the way back to his seat.
The Suns’ idea to host the contest came from a revelation that team president Peter Bragan Jr. had in January. As Bragan walked into his gym, he thought he saw Tebow. But after realizing it was just a look-alike, the lightbulb went on, and the team soon put plans for the contest in motion.
Bragan was hoping that Tebow, who was in the Jacksonville area this past weekend for his foundation’s charity golf tournament, would make a surprise appearance and win the contest himself, but he did not attend.
Some contestants wore Gators apparel and John 3:16 eye-black patches to evoke Tebow.
“I’m a Florida State fan, and even I’ve got huge respect for Tebow,” said 22-year-old James Aten, who finished second in the contest. “He gets put down a lot ... but I’ve got a lot of respect for him because of what he did in Denver.”
• In Playbook Visuals: Foods, drinks and other items named for Tim Tebow