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IRL: Eddie Cheever Selected 'Champion' By The State of Florida

5 June 1999

Cheever named along with top Florida athletes Anfernee Hardway, Alonzo Mourning, Dan Marino, Jack Nicklaus and others

Tallahassee, Florida --The Florida Sports Foundation, the official sports promotion and development organization for the state of Florida, and a media panel comprised of ten top Florida journalists announced the nominees for its annual Lucent Technologies' "Champion Awards". The "Champions Awards" recognize the best athletes from Florida's professional sports teams and individual sports.

Indy Racing League team owner and driver, Eddie Cheever, Jr., was singled out to receive the "Champion Award" in the Motorsports Division due to his 1998 Indianapolis 500 win as well as his being at the top of his field over the past twenty-five years. The special award for Excellence in Automobile Racing will be given to 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever, an Orlando resident, and will be presented by Hall of Fame driver "Big Daddy" Don Gartlits. The honor comes on the heels of the City of Orlando and the State Of Florida proclaiming "Eddie Cheever Day" on April 26th and 27th respectively.

"What a wonderful honor to be coupled with so many great athletes", spoke Cheever. "It is a great joy to have the state I call "home" share with me some of the most successful times of my twenty-five year career. I moved here for the warmth of the sun and the goodness of the people, but I could never have anticipated being welcomed so openly into the fold as Florida has welcomed me."

The 1999 "Champion Awards" are based on play during the 1998-99 season, and are open to all athletes who live or play in the state of Florida. Cheever will join a select group of professional athletes including Anfernee Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Dan Marino, Tony Boselli, Warren Sapp, Alex Rodriguez and Jack Nicklaus. Last year's winners included the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Warren Sapp, the Miami Heat's Tim Hardaway, and golf phenomenon Tiger Woods.

"One of the most positive unifying forces in Florida is the intensity with which we all love our professional athletes," said Patrick McGrath, Chairman of the Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors. "Every professional sports team and organization in this state is proud to be a part of this worthy effort to bring Floridians together."

The athletes chosen as the "Champs" will be honored at the "Champion Awards" gala on June 18 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The event will be hosted by Monday Night Football's Lesley Visser and Fox Sports' Dick Stockton, and will be attended by celebrities, athletes, political leaders and other VIPs who call Florida home.

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