GARDEN CITY—Father Andrew Trapp may not have won the $1 million prize on a poker game show, but he succeeded in shining a national media spotlight on a priest from St. Michael Church in Garden City.
On Dec. 27, 2009, over 200 members of St. Michael met in the parish center to view the final episode of “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge” featuring Father Trapp. He showed America that priests are people too.
The tournament came down to Father Trapp and Michael Kosowski playing for the right to face poker professional Daniel Negreanu for the grand prize.
“During a bluff, I asked Mike if he was going to need confession,” said Father Trapp with a smile on his face. Kosowski won the game and went on to win the million bucks.
Father Trapp said he was disappointed that he did not win for St. Michael’s building fund, but he was happy for Kosowski, a veteran first responder of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy and a fellow Catholic.
He was excited that he had an opportunity to show the American people that Catholic priests are just regular people with a calling, he said. He hoped that the publicity would open the minds of young Catholic men to the possibility of the priesthood as a lifetime vocation and would be a unique evangelization opportunity.
“I hope I represented the priesthood well,” he said.
Father Trapp also hoped the American people would see that priests lead balanced lives, with friends and hobbies outside of church, he said.
During the taping of the show, Father Trapp had the opportunity to share his vocation story with Negreanu, the poker professional. He also had discussions with an evangelical group in the audience and fielded many questions about the Catholic priesthood in general.
Besides winning $100,000, Father Trapp won a trip to the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure held at the Atlantis Resort and Casino. He wanted to auction off the trip to raise money for the church, but his pastor, Father Raymond J. Carlo, insisted he take it.
The game show executives even arranged a room for Father Trapp to celebrate daily Mass during the poker tournament.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience … a fun way for people to see the human side of being a priest,” he said.