Tall tale shames tearful North Dakota bowler

FARGO, N.D. - Zach Myers has learned a life lesson that you'd think any 20-year-old already would know: Nothing good comes from lying. Confronted Tuesday with news The Forum of Fargo/Moorhead uncovered that the bowling enthusiast didn't participa...

FARGO, N.D. - Zach Myers has learned a life lesson that you'd think any 20-year-old already would know: Nothing good comes from lying.

Confronted Tuesday with news The Forum of Fargo/Moorhead uncovered that the bowling enthusiast didn't participate in a July tournament even though his employer covered his sponsorship, Myers had to break the news to Corwin Automotive officials that instead of going to the bowling tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., Myers made it to Minneapolis and no farther.

Corwin Honda General Manager Keith McDougall said Tuesday that Myers' dishonesty prompted his suspension from work without pay for a week, and his future with the company is uncertain.

The Forum published a story Friday about Corwin and Myers' co-workers chipping in to pay for him to attend the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championship tournament after they learned he didn't plan to attend because he couldn't afford it. Myers' mother called The Forum with the news tip.

At the time of the interview last week, rather than fessin' up, Myers dug himself a deeper hole by continuing with the charade that he attended the tournament, in addition to telling people at work that he attended and placed 210th. After The Forum's story was published, other North Dakota bowlers who participated in the tournament sent emails alerting the newsroom to Myers' tall tale.


On Tuesday, after his elaborate story crumbled, Myers seemed remorseful and even was pushed to tears.

"If I would have been honest about it in the beginning, this would have never happened," Myers said in an interview Tuesday.

Myers qualified for the USBC Junior Gold Championship tournament in late 2006 by winning a local tournament. He said in his initial interview with The Forum that attending the national event was a dream he had since he began bowling at 8 years old.

Myers began working at Corwin Automotive Loyalty Center in March as a representative. He started saving so he could attend the New York bowling tournament.

In May, Myers realized going to Buffalo was not an option because he didn't have the funds. After learning of Myers' predicament, his boss, Leslie Gjesdahl, made a few calls and Corwin officially became his sponsor, paying for his airfare to the event and $500 toward hotel expenses. Corwin also bought some bowling shirts for Myers.

Gjesdahl said she saw it as a perfect gift to reward one of her best workers.

"He's just a super, wonderful young man," Gjesdahl said last week when interviewed for The Forum's initial story. "He's one of a kind."

Myers learned about the sponsorship at work a few days before the event's July 7 start. And to add to the surprise, his fellow Corwin employees also pitched in by filling a card full of spending money for his trip.


The sponsorship made him feel like he could achieve anything at the tournament in New York, Myers said.

"It gave you the idea that maybe you could do something great in Buffalo," he said for last week's story, also describing the event, which ran through July 14, as a dream fulfilled.

But everyone learned Tuesday that he never attended the event.

Local bowler Adam Laskey, who also earned his way to the New York tournament, said he heard Myers was going to attend the event and watched for him. When Myers didn't show up, Laskey figured something must have come up.

After reading The Forum's article Friday, Laskey said he was shocked to see Myers talking about the event because he knew Myers didn't attend. He said the story upset many local bowlers because there are plenty of them who could have used the funding.

"Bowlers just in general are upset," Laskey said. "That cost us one spot (which another North Dakota bowler could have used in the tournament)."

When contacted first on Tuesday, Myers told The Forum he didn't attend the tournament because when he got to New York, Junior Gold officials told him his membership had expired and therefore he couldn't participate.

That was impossible, Junior Gold Events Manager Maureen Vicena said Tuesday. She said they would never have turned away a bowler. Instead of being told he couldn't participate, he would have been asked to pay his $25 membership fee at registration, she said.


When confronted again Tuesday, Myers then told the truth about what happened. Instead of taking the flight out of Minneapolis on July 6 as he was supposed to, Myers stayed in the city for a couple of days before returning to Fargo and holing up in his apartment for the week.

Myers said when he reached Minneapolis, he didn't think he had enough money to pay for a hotel, transportation and food in New York for the entire week of the tournament.

Once back at home and at work, he didn't want to disappoint his employer and coworkers, Myers said, so he lied to everyone about attending the event and made up his elaborate story.

McDougall, the Corwin Honda general manager, said Tuesday that Myers' lies had everyone fooled.

"Everybody here was deceived," McDougall said. "He basically stole from our organization and his fellow employees."

Myers said Tuesday he now is ready to take full responsibility for his actions by first apologizing to everyone involved.

In addition to the apology, McDougall said Myers is going to pay back Corwin for the plane ticket and $500 hotel stipend. The money donated by his fellow employees will have to be worked out between Myers and them, McDougall said.

After Myers' one-week suspension without pay is up, McDougall said, he will then decide whether Myers has a future with Corwin.


Shirley Myers, the young man's mother, on Tuesday said she was shocked after a Forum reporter informed her about her son's elaborate ruse.

"I'm speechless," she said. "I don't know what to say."

While telling each lie may have seemed easy to those who were duped, Myers said, he was feeling a different story on the inside.

"It just ripped me apart," Myers said. "I felt like I had a knot in my stomach."

After finally telling the truth about what happened, Myers said, he has felt the best he has in a month.

Myers summed up his actions pretty simply: "I'm young and I'm dumb."

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jordan Dresser at (701) 235-7311.

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