Cornhole ace ‘in it to compete;’ Graham to vie for world tossing title


Contributed photo Matt Gui, left, and Jamie Graham competed in a cornhole tournament earlier this year in Virginia Beach. Graham, a Hamlet resident, will compete in this week’s World Championships of Cornhole in Knoxville, Tennessee.

By Melonie McLaurin | mflomer@civitasmedia.com

HAMLET — A local teenager is off to Knoxville, Tennessee this week to compete in the American Cornhole Organization’s World Championships of Cornhole X.

Jamie Graham, 17, of Hamlet said what began as a hobby brought out the competitive nature in him. A year after his first visit to the championships, mostly for the practice, Graham has adopted a strict regimen of training on Mondays through Fridays most weeks.

“Everybody who goes to the championships can play in it,” Graham explained. But there’s a cost to enter into competition, and the more regionals you play during the year, the less it costs to go. I’ve played five regionals, so it’s not costing me very much to play in the world championships.”

Graham said he’s traveling on Tuesday, but the ranked players’ invitational isn’t until Thursday.

“The top 40 in the world don’t have to compete in the RPI. I’m not one of the top 40, so I will be doing that,” Graham said. “There are 42 brackets with seven people each. You play to get in the main bracket. If I come in the top two in my bracket, I’ll be playing again Saturday.”

Since he started taking the sport seriously, Graham has won some competitive honors.

“I won the juniors at the state level and came in third in singles for my state,” he said. “Earlier this year I won $1,142 in Cary at the N.C. Money Shot. I used most of it to buy shoes and clothes and stuff, but I saved some of it too.”

Graham has a few wise words for anyone with an interest in competitive cornhole.

“If you can’t hang with big dogs, then stay on the porch,” he said. “I’m the only one from Rockingham, Hamlet and Ellerbe who’s ever played in the World (championship). Last year I did it. I went and it was basically for the experience. I didn’t really play that much then. I played, but I didn’t play well — but this year I’m in it to compete.”

In addition to his own daily training, Graham participates in the once-monthly regionals, held in different cities and towns around the state, to keep his ranking high.

The ultimate cash prize at the World Championships of Cornhole this year is a whopping $10,000. Graham knows he’ll be going up against some of the best professional cornhole players on the planet — but his eyes are still on the prize, and like any champion, he’s got plans for it in case he wins big.

“I’m probably going save most of it for college and then different stuff,” Graham said. “I’ll give some to my mom probably.”

Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.

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