LAKELAND, Fla. (FOX 13) - Christian Lomenzo looks like any other student at Florida Polytechnic University, but there is more cash in his pocket than most of his classmates. The 22-year-old junior just earned $35,000 for winning a 'Madden NFL 19' video game tournament, beating out hundreds of thousands of other players worldwide.
Lomenzo described it as “mind blowing.”
“I was literally sitting there just frozen, speechless,” he told FOX 13. “So many thoughts going through my mind, like, did I really just win that game?”
It was even more amazing because he was a long shot.
“I was pretty much the underdog in pretty much every one of my games, and everyone counted me out,” he said.
They shouldn’t have. He had been practicing up to 8 every day.
“If I am into the game and just grinding it, I am just playing until I am wiped out, tired,” Lomenzo said.
The practice was not the only thing that was draining. An incident last August left an indelible mark on him. He entered a qualifying tournament in Jacksonville. None of the competitors could ever be ready for what happened there.
Out of nowhere, a gunman opened fire. When Lomenzo heard the commotion, he took off.
“I just ran out the back door, and ran as far as possible, and it was just utter chaos,” he said.
Within minutes, the gunman had killed two people, then himself, and injured 19 others.
Shaken, Lomenzo continued to practice. Months later, his dedication paid off when he won.
Now, he is ready for his next challenge. He will be competing in another Madden NFL 19 tournament at the end of April. The winner of that will walk away with a $40,000 prize.
With a major win already under his belt, Lomenzo says he doesn’t feel like he is under pressure to perform in the next round.
“The pressure is probably going to be on my opponents,” he added.