W. Columbia man banks over $250,000 playing HaloPosted: Updated:
Justin Deese gets paid money to play video games.
Yes. Let that sink in for a moment. Real, honest-to-God hard currency.
It's a fact that even Justin's father, Jim Deese, has had to come to grips with as well.
"Who would ever think people would get paid to play video games," said Jim. "But it has been very, very fun and exciting to watch him grow up, mature-wise."
So as you sit at your 9-to-5 desk job and wonder where it all went wrong, let's tell you Justin's story and maybe you'll feel a little better.
Justin began playing Microsoft's Halo, the hit first person shooter and alien massacre extravaganza, when he was 14 years old. Over time, he got good at the game. Really good.
"It's definitely a weird experience," said Justin. "It's weird to want to get better at a video game and be the best at it. I eventually got to the point where I was really good, but can I be the best?"
Over the past few years, Justin has been to around 40 different tournaments. But he won his biggest purse, $75,000 and a second place finish at the World Halo Championships, just a few weeks ago.
In all, the 20-year-old student has made around $250,000 playing the video game competitively.
But how Justin has used his winnings might surprise you. After all, images of young adults with money usually make most people shudder.
"I'm not a fancy guy," said Justin. "I don't like too many fancy things."
Justin has mostly saved his earnings or used the money to help his family. In fact, he gave $8,000 to help his sister put a down payment on her house.
"I like to save my money as much as possible and I'd rather use it to help my family than to help myself," said Justin.
It's that attitude that has really impressed Justin's father.
"He's very, very smart," said Jim. "He's very frugal with his money, and he cares about what he does and about his family and you can't ask for anymore than that other than staying out of trouble, which he definitely has done."
While the money is nice, Justin says competitive gaming all boils down to one thing: winning.
"There's nothing better than winning," said Justin. "Everyone there wants to win and you're the player that does get to win? There's nothing better than that."
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