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Graduate Hotels Honor Athens First Responders After UGA-Ole Miss Bet


Photo Credit: ZoomWorks Photography

When Devin Heath and Mike Hoover made a friendly wager on the UGA-Ole Miss football game, first responders in both cities reaped the benefits.

Heath, general manager of the Graduate Athens hotel, and Hoover, GM of the Graduate hotel in Oxford, MS, struck a deal: The loser would travel from their respective hotel to the other, along with a culinary team prepared to serve the first responders of the winners city a meal that reflected the local flavor.

After Georgia lost to Ole Miss, Heath and his team packed up and made the seven-hour trip to Oxford, serving dishes like peach ribs and Southern baked beans. In friendly fun and rivalry, Hoover donned Heath in an Ole Miss jersey, hat and a bib that proclaimed “I’m a lil’ Rebel.”

In a show of good sportsmanship however, Hoover decided the first responders of Athens deserved a good Mississippi meal as well.

“It was so much fun doing it for the Oxford first responders,” Hoover said, “We thought it would just be a great event for Athens, we really like working together, and just, yeah, making sure that we’re giving our communities the support and appreciation that they deserve.”

Hoover and his culinary team, Gerald Peralta and Chip Moore, made the drive to Athens last week to cook up a Southern spread for roughly 75 policemen, firefighters, EMS and other first responders.

Wednesday afternoon, Hoyt Pavilion at the Graduate Hotel was set for a banquet with steaming dishes of Mississippi catfish, pulled pork with Mississippi barbecue sauce, ribs and Mississippi mud pie for dessert.

Heath displayed his Bulldog pride, though, when he brought out a Georgia jersey with the number one on it—the number of times Ole Miss has won this particular game since 2002. (Georgia has won 10 times, just saying.) Hoover, in good humor, submitted to sporting the jersey and bulldog hat while Peralta and Moore wore Bulldog foam fingers.

“Today, you’re a Georgia fan,” Heath proclaimed.

When asked if they’ll keep up the betting next year, Hoover said “absolutely.”