Mich. Pair Wins Beer Pong Championship Wed Jan 18, 7:53 AM ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A pair of recent University of Michigan graduates are each $5,000 richer for being the best at a national tournament involving a campus drinking game popular among many college students.
Jason Coben and Nick Velissaris are the champions of the " World Series of Beer Pong," which took place earlier this month near Las Vegas. The two beat out more than 160 other competitors to split the $10,000 grand prize.
Beer pong is played this way: While standing, players attempt to toss a Ping Pong ball into cups that are partially filled with beer at the other end of the table. If the players succeed, their opponents are forced to drink the beer in the cup.
Beer pong has made the transition from house-party game to being a featured event in bars that host tournaments. Companies sell custom-designed beer pong tables and related products. A merchandiser of beer pong paraphernalia held the "World Series of Beer Pong."
Critics say the game encourages binge drinking, but Coben and Velissaris say it's not about irresponsible drinking. They say it's a way to have a good time with friends.
"It's like playing darts at a bar," Coben told The Ann Arbor News.
Coben and Velissaris picked up the game several years ago. Coben was a swimmer at Michigan, Velissaris was a wrestler, and they got to know each other through the athletic community.
When they were old enough to go to bars, they brought the game with them and played among friends.
Eventually, the two began helping to organize weekly tournaments in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
At the national tournament, Coben and Velissaris were sponsored by a campus-area bar, The Brown Jug, which paid the $550 entry fee. The bar's owner, Perry Porikos, agreed to put up the money.
He said Coben and Velissaris are regular customers who have helped out in a pinch at the bar. The two paid their own airfare and plan to pay back Porikos from their winnings.
They also wore T-shirts with the bar's name during the competition.