9/11 hero wins $1,000,000 on PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge

Former NYPD officer wins first season of the show, claiming victory over Canadian poker legend Daniel Negreanu

TORONTO, Dec. 21 /CNW/ - The PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge concludes its groundbreaking first season with an edge-of-your seat, uplifting episode that must be seen to be believed.

In a decade defined by the tragedies of September 11, 2001, PokerStars.net ends the year -- and the decade -- with a story that will leave viewers not sure if they should cry or cheer or do both at the same time. Mike Kosowski, a 21-year NYPD veteran and 9/11 first responder, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to defeat Canadian poker star Daniel Negreanu in a heads-up match to win $1,000,000. (See Mike's story at: http://bit.ly/4uZeEB)

PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge airs on Sunday, December 27 on Global TV (check local listings).*

Detective Sergeant Mike Kosowski, whose story is chronicled in the book "Never Forget: The Oral History of September 11," was one of the first NYPD officers on the scene that terrible morning, rushing into the World Trade Center to help evacuate people.

From there, getting pelted with glass and debris, he hustled to the World Financial Center, in hopes of helping make sure that building was clear. Inside, he found eight people trapped. Determined to bring them to safety, Kosowski was leading the group through a back exit when an explosion rippled through the area, launching Kosowski 10 feet through the air. He slammed into a wall. Though adrenaline kept him from feeling the full force of the pain, that impact herniated three discs in his neck, two in his back and left him with pain in his legs.

Kosowski spent the rest of the day, and the better part of the next few months, searching the debris at Ground Zero and on the Staten Island landfills for human remains. He was given the Medal of Valor for his actions that day.

These searches induced serious asthma which, combined with the herniated discs, led Kosowski to retire in 2004, after 21 years on the force. Retired, in pain and bored back home in Staten Island, Kosowski started playing poker and quickly found a new passion. While watching the 2007 World Series of Poker on TV, Mike and his wife Fran first saw Negreanu play.

Mike turned to his wife and said: "I'm going to play him some day and I'm going to beat him," Fran laughed. Two weeks later, Mike had a dream that he beat Negreanu one-on-one. When he told his wife the next morning, Fran laughed again, dismissing his nonsense.

But the dream would become a reality. This fall, Kosowski saw a commercial announcing that PokerStars.net and FOX Sports teamed up to create a show that will give one player a chance to play Daniel Negreanu heads up for $1,000,000. Kosowski logged on to PokerStars.net, played in a specially designated free tournament and overcame huge odds to finish in the top 10 of 10,000 entrants. He finished fourth.

Then another obstacle: the taping dates for the show were the weekend the Kosowskis were set to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Fran, who was laid off from her job in November, insisted he go to Los Angeles, even though producers told Mike he'd be an alternate and likely wouldn't appear on the show.

Through great skill and a run of tremendous luck - none of the three contestants who played on the show before him that day were able to advance past the first round, giving Kosowski a shot to play on air - Kosowski thoroughly outplayed both the contestants from his show and then the top winners from the series' earlier episodes at two sit-n-go tables. Kosowski took full advantage of the opportunity, earning his way into the one-on-one final and outplaying Negreanu, the four-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner.

But Mike Kosowski won't be the only big winner on Dec. 27. All season long, PokerStars.net has given viewers at home a chance to get in on the action with a $100,000 giveaway. $80,000 has already been paid out to show viewers with another $20,000 still up for grabs. Tune into the show on Sunday, Dec. 27 to get the password and enter to win $20,000.

    
    *  Check local listings at
         www.pokerstars.net/poker/promotions/millions/freeroll/.
    (xx) Go to Pokerstars.net for a full list of contest rules and
         qualifications.
    

About PokerStars.net:

PokerStars.net is the world's largest online poker school with over 26 million members worldwide. It's the premier destination for the world's top players - with numerous tournaments running every day. PokerStars.net is renowned for offering the best software and security in the online poker world. PokerStars.net:

    
    -   Has dealt over 32 billion hands
    -   Has run more than 190 million poker tournaments
    -   Holds the Guinness Book of World Records for 'Largest Online Poker
        Tournament' and 'Most Players at an Internet Poker Room'
    

PokerStars.net is the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour, PokerStars.net Caribbean Adventure, Latin American Poker Tour, Asia Pacific Poker Tour and The World Cup of Poker. PokerStars.net is the home of Team PokerStars.net Pro, a group of over 30 veteran and up-and-coming players from around the world who play online at PokerStars.net and are sponsored by the site in international tournaments around the world. For more information please visit www.pokerstars.net.

SOURCE PokerStars.net

For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: Anne Locke, Paradigm Public Relations, alocke@paradigmpr.ca, (416) 203-2223 x 225

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