The mystery winner of a seat aboard a SpaceX flight said he gifted the prize to his friend after the company determined that he exceeded the weight limit.
Kyle Hippchen, 43, said he’s still struggling with the disappointment of learning that he could not claim his seat on the space flight last September since he weighs 330 pounds, above the 250-pound weight limit for the voyage.
“It hurts too much,” he said. “I’m insanely disappointed, but it is what it is.”
Hippchen, a Florida-based captain for Delta’s regional carrier Endeavor Air, purchased about $600-worth of sweepstakes entries before he realized that he exceeded the weight limit.
With 72,000 entries in the random drawing last February, he didn’t believe he’d win.
But then he began to receive a series of emails seeking details about his physicality.
He assumed that he was one of the finalists and told organizers that he was pulling out, only to find out in a series of emails that he had won the chance to orbit Earth.
“I was trying to figure how I could drop 80 pounds in six months, which, I mean, it’s possible, but it’s not the most healthy thing in the world to do,” Hippchen said.
The flight’s sponsor, Shift4 Payments founder and CEO Jared Isaacman, allowed Hippchen to pick a stand-in.
He ultimately handed over his ticket to Chris Sembrowski, who had been his roommate in the late 1990s while attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“Kyle’s willingness to gift his seat to Chris was an incredible act of generosity,” Isaacman said in an email this week.
While Hippchen didn’t get to see Earth from orbit, he joined friends and family of the crew on a special zero-gravity plane.
“It was a blast,” he said.
With Post wires