Million Dollar Throw Summary

Mike Lupica

Million Dollar Throw

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Million Dollar Throw Summary

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Million Dollar Throw (2009) is a children’s sports novel by American author and sportswriter Mike Lupica. It centers on thirteen-year-old football player Nate Brodie, a huge Patriots fan and star of his local football team. Known as the boy with the golden arm, he wins a contest to make a single throw at halftime in the Patriots’ a Thanksgiving game. If he makes it, he wins a million dollars. However, with his parents having trouble making ends meet and his best friend dealing with a medical crisis, the pressure on Nate to make the near-impossible shot mounts, and it starts to affect his game. Not only does he doubt he can make the shot that counts, he wonders if he is cut out for football at all. Million Dollar Throw deals with themes of sportsmanship, teen stress, loyalty, friendship, and courage. Although the concept is similar to Dan Gutman’s Million Dollar series, it is not part of the series. Million Dollar Throw, praised for its in-depth look at the game of football and the stress it places on its young players, was a major hit in the children’s sports writing genre.

Million Dollar Throw focuses on Nate Brodie, a thirteen-year-old from Valley, Massachusetts. A star football player and the starting quarterback for the Valley Patriots, he is known as the “boy with the golden arm.” He practically worships the New England Patriots—especially their star quarterback, Tom Brady. He loves football as more than just a game, seeing it as an escape from the daily grind of school and a great bonding experience with his friends. However, football becomes much more important when shortly after his birthday, his mother takes him and his best friend Abby McCall to SportStuff to buy the limited edition Tom Brady signed football he has been saving up for. There, he finds out about a contest, “The SportStuff Million-Dollar Throw.” The winner of the contest gets the chance to make one difficult throw, from thirty yards away through a twenty-inch hole, at halftime of the Patriots/Colts Thanksgiving game. Nate enters, not thinking twice about it, but he wins the one in a million shot, and suddenly a million dollars rests on his throwing arm. While he is excited, he is also overwhelmed by just how much lies on this one shot.

Nate’s family and friends are not without their troubles. His family has struggled with finances for a while, ever since his dad was laid off from his real estate company. His father now works two lower-paying jobs, and his mother has taken a job at a gift shop in between volunteering at the hospital. This has led them to put their house up for sale, and Nate is depressed at the idea of leaving the only home he has ever known. However, Abby has problems that may be even more pressing. A brilliant artist who loves painting, she has been diagnosed with retinisis pigmentosa, and her vision is slowly fading. Although Abby tries to maintain a positive attitude, she is terrified to go blind. While there is an experimental operation that may fix her vision, it is very expensive and her family cannot afford it. Nate is torn between wanting to give her the money for the operation and helping his family out with their finances; the pressure of these two dreams depending on this extremely hard shot begins to wear on him.

Abby soon learns that as her vision gets worse, she may have to leave the school to go to a school for the blind. Threatened with the prospect of losing his best friend, Nate’s nerves start affecting his football skills. Not only is he unsure he can make the shot, but he starts missing shots on the field, putting his dream of winning the championship in doubt. When his dad loses his part-time job, Nate feels the pressure in every area of his life. However, he tells himself that others are dealing with so much more and refocuses himself on practicing. Regaining his positive attitude, he sees his game improve again as Thanksgiving’s game draws closer. When he arrives at the stadium for his shot at the big money, he is surprised to meet Tom Brady, his hero. Tom Brady gives Nate some encouragement, and Nate takes the field. He tunes out everything else, takes his shot…and it sails right through the tiny hole in the target. With a little inspiration from his hero, Nate Brodie has made the million-dollar shot. The book ends with Nate deciding to offer the million dollars to Abby so she can have the operation. He has fulfilled his dream and wants to make sure she can continue to live hers.

Mike Lupica is an American sportswriter, novelist, journalist, and political activist. He is a columnist for the New York Daily News, and has written for Esquire, Golf Digest, Parade, and Men’s Journal. He has written more than a dozen books for adults, many non-fiction dealing with the history of sport, and roughly the same number of children’s novels. Virtually all his works deal with sports, primarily baseball, football, and basketball. A frequent guest on ESPN, he received the 2003 Jim Murray Award from the National Football Foundation.