Elizabeth Hardy wins Football Fever grand prize trip to Las Vegas

West Hawaii Today’s Football Fever winner, Elizabeth Hardy. (Laura Ruminski / West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — If the game’s on, chances are Elizabeth Hardy’s watching it, with a sign hanging on her closed door letting people know, don’t come a knockin’.

“Football, football, that’s my game

Wasting time watching, my claim to fame

If you dare knock on the door, or call me,

you will be composted.”

The problem is, other residents in her apartment know that the Kealakekua woman is the one to turn to if their TV isn’t working and they’re in need of watching the games themselves. So come knockin’, they sometimes do.

“I’m sort of the go-to person,” Hardy said.

Her devotion to the sport paid off this year as Hardy was West Hawaii Today’s Football Fever grand prize winner, earning a trip for two to Las Vegas. This, after she won week 20 and $250 in the same contest, meaning she doubled up her winnings in a major way.

In its third year, Football Fever runs from August to January where readers pick games against the spread each week. Ballots are printed in WHT during the week, and people drop off their filled-out forms at the newspaper’s office or at business-sponsored sites.

The first ballot randomly drawn that selected games correctly at a rate as well as or better than the newspaper’s best celebrity picker won $250.

During week 20, Hardy’s ballot, which picked three of the four playoff outcomes correctly, was selected.

But as far as the grand prize drawing, Hardy’s name was selected from all 1,811 ballots played during the year.

So gridiron knowledge combined with some luck was needed. And Hardy got it twice. It’s a little like converting 4th and 10 and then 4th and 50 on the same drive.

“I don’t know if it’s still registered. I can’t remember anything I’ve won and I’m 81 years old,” said Hardy, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago and remembered finishing in second place in a Catholic Girl of the Year contest, which landed her picture in the newspaper. “That’s probably the last time (I won). I’m just not that kind of person.”

She always dropped her ballot at NAPA Auto Parts in Kealakekua, one of the sponsors along with NAPA in Kailua-Kona and Orchid Isle Ford in Kailua-Kona. But she didn’t play to win or even save her ballots to keep track of her win-loss record. It was just for the joy of it.

“It was for fun,” she said. “I thought the ballots were interesting.”

As far as football, she loves watching Hawaii product Marcus Mariota play today, but retired Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre goes down as one of her favorites because of the wild enthusiasm Pack Man showed for the game. The rocket-armed signal caller would often congratulate opponents for big hits or plays well done — a trait Hardy admires.

“It’s not only football, it’s any career or job that somebody has,” she said. “If they really enjoy it, it shows.”

The mother of four is taking one of her sons to Las Vegas with her — though the rush of winning hasn’t quite sunk in.

“I could not believe it,” she said. “In a way I could, because I was playing, but I don’t play to win.”