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Former NFL Star Ken Lucas, Mississippi Treasurer Join Regions, Visa in Kicking Off Financial Football

Video game teaches financial education, something Mississippi State Treasurer Lynn Fitch wants to take statewide.

NOV. 19, 2014 - Ken Lucas leaned over the table, carefully adding his elegant autograph to color photos from his days as a cornerback with the Seattle Seahawks.

“I love to compete,” Lucas said. “Even as a kid, I competed to see who had the best handwriting in elementary school.”

A recent inductee into the Ole Miss Hall of Fame, the former NFL star came to the Mississippi state capitol in Jackson Tuesday to help teach high school students how to compete after graduation. Lucas joined Mississippi State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, Visa, Regions and students from eight area high schools for a game of Financial Football.

For Fitch, this was merely an introduction to financial education that she wants to make a regular part of the curriculum.

“I truly believe as treasurer that I need to champion financial literacy across the state,” Fitch said. “If we can teach our children more about money, we will empower them, and there will be fewer dropouts and the crime rate would go down. We all will rise together.”

Before the game, Lucas spoke to the students about his experiences as an NFL player, and provided some cautionary tales about players who didn’t protect their money wisely. Lucas said the best financial advice he received came long before he had the chance to play ball professionally.

The message came from his mother. “She told me to put money away and be ready for a rainy day,” Lucas said. “And that lesson never left me because you may be a millionaire or billionaire, but someday you’ll have your own rainy day.”

A video game based on the Madden franchise, Visa’s Financial Football uses financial education questions instead of controllers to move up and down the field. The tougher the question, the greater the risk and the rewards. Each student received a DVD of the game, which is also available online through the state treasurer’s office.

Finch captained one team, playing as the Saints. Lucas captained the other students, playing as the Seahawks. Quickly, the friendly financial education game turned into a competitive affair, with the captains assisting their teams with answers and responding with high fives after a big score.

With time running out in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks trailing 14-7, Lucas took competition to a different level. He opted for easy questions, preferring to run down the game clock before taking a final gamble that resulted in a touchdown. His team then won the game 15-14 with a two-point conversion after time expired.

“She’s the expert,” Lucas said, referring to the treasurer. “And they were answering questions so consistently. I realized we couldn’t give them the ball back. So we came up with the perfect game plan.”

Arthur DuCote, State President for Regions in Mississippi, joined Fitch in hosting the event and served as a lifeline when teams got stumped. While DuCote was familiar with the game, seeing it first hand and observing the students’ reactions was an eye opener.

“I was impressed with the sophistication of the game,” DuCote said. “I loved how competitive the students were and how much they got into the game. I also liked that they can’t help but learn about financial education by playing.”

DuCote said Regions’ involvement in Financial Football in Jackson, which kicked off with an outing headlined by former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in January, is an important initiative.

“Advice, guidance and education are core values and part of who we are at Regions,” DuCote said. “We can’t play our role in the community without being at the forefront of these kinds of efforts.”

For Lucas, it was a chance to come home – he grew up in Cleveland, on the Mississippi Delta – and motivate students to learn more about money management.

“Honestly, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about finances,” Lucas said. “After playing this game, I need the (Financial Football game) DVD ASAP. This was great.”

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