Who knew texting at the dinner table, during class and all hours of the day would eventually pay off?
Seventeen-year-old Austin Wierschke from Rhinelander, Wis. — a high school senior who can type up to six characters in just one second — won $50,000 for the second year in a row at the sixth annual texting event LG U.S. Texting Championship held on Wednesday in New York City.
Standing on a stage in the middle of Times Square, Wierschke beat out 10 other finalists, who competed in a series of rounds using a LG Optimus Zip QWERTY keyboard smartphone. The preliminaries started several months ago when the competition had about 100,000 contestants.
Finalists ranging in age from 16 to 24 were tested on three skills: speed, accuracy and dexterity. Challenges included spelling out texting abbreviations as quickly as possible and completing texting tasks while blindfolded. In one round, competitors had to text with the device behind their backs.
There were a few technical glitches that happened throughout the competition, and some finalists questioned whether or not the results were largely dependent on the carrier used to send the texts to the judges’ room. (LG hasn’t responded to a request for comment).
But glitches aside, it was clear Wierschke was the one to beat after soaring through each round. He beat New York City-native Kent Augustine in a final showdown to clinch the title.
In August 2011, MTV featured an hour-long documentary called Thumbs that chronicled teen texting culture in America and young competitors’ journeys to become the fastest in the country at the LG U.S. National Texting Championship.
In collaboration with this year’s event, LG teamed up with Cartoon Network’s “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign to help raise money for anti-bullying toolkits that will be sent out to middle and high schools across the U.S.
During a “Text for a Cause” round in Wednesday’s event, the crowd was asked to help prevent bullying by texting “Join LG” to 27777. For every text received, LG will give $1 to the campaign.
Do you think these contestants would be just as fast using a touchscreen? Should there be a round for such devices? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.