Lancaster native Suni Strong poses with the Laker Girls after winning the Mandalay Bay Big Shot Jackpot on Jan. 21, 2018.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Suni Strong's Half-Court Shot Wins $100,000 Mandalay Bay Big Shot Jackpot

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Suni Strong never doubted his range.

“I told them to have my check ready,” Strong laughed after hitting a half-court shot to win $100,000 on the Mandalay Bay Big Shot Jackpot on Sunday.

After the end of the third quarter, the 27-year-old took one dribble and launched the ball off the backboard and into the hoop before pumping his fist and jumping up and down in celebration.

Strong — composite technician at SpaceX and a bounty hunter — admitted that he didn’t call bank, but maintained that pick-up hoops with his friends led him to be ready for this moment.

“To be 100 percent honest, we used to play around at the park and we would shoot that shot and call it ‘dignity,’” said Strong, who played high school basketball for Highland High. “To put someone off the court, we would throw it up and scream dignity.”

The Lancaster native became the first Big Shot winner of the season and just the seventh (including former Laker Vlade Divac) to ever win the half-court contest since it began in 2006.

Strong’s phone had died, so he was cut off from knowing how his family and friends were reacting. But he sure made it a special first Lakers game for his nephew, Zosier, whose confidence in his uncle never wavered.

Strong’s plans for the $100,000 includes buying Zosier a Nintendo Switch. But the first person being taken care of is Strong’s mom.

“Just give her whatever she wants,” he said.

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