Finalists include: David Ehrke, 15, from Alma, Nebraska; Teena Handline, 25, from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania; Jaden Nandkeshwar, 12, from Layton, Utah; Andrew Portnoy, 40, from Austin, Texas and Marlana VanHoose, 19 from Denver, Kentucky.
The contest now moves to the public voting phase on the SGA Facebook page. The performer with the most likes by 11:59 p.m. CDT on April 20 earns the honor of performing the Star Spangled Banner at the SGA Opening Ceremonies on July 31.
The finalists were chosen from among 51 contestants from 22 states who submitted audition videos via YouTube. A selection team ranked the auditions and the consensus top five was chosen for the public-voting phase. Travel and lodging expenses for the winner are underwritten by the contest sponsor Amigos / Kings Classic, a popular Nebraska restaurant chain.
The State Games of America is expected to draw more than 18,000 participants to Lincoln and Omaha from July 28–August 2 for competition in 63 sports. Besides the national anthem, the Opening Ceremonies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium includes the traditional parade of athletes, a freestyle motocross exhibition by the Metal Mulisha and a torch lighting finale including Olympians Lolo Jones and Jordan Burroughs.
Participant registration is open through May 15 for non-Nebraskans and July 1 for resident athletes. More than 1,500 competitors from 40 different states are already registered. Details regarding events, eligibility, hotel accommodations and the host city of Lincoln are available at SGA2015.com. Follow State Games of America on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.