Unemployed boater wins $25,000

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A boater from North Carolina is $25,000 richer thanks to the BoatU.S. Wave of Fortune Sweepstakes. Kerry Watts of Charlotte, N.C., won the grand prize, capping off the year-long event. Watts earned one sweepstakes entry last spring after a boating friend urged him to join the nationwide boat owners group.

"I needed insurance for my boat and my friend, who grew up in boating, asked me, 'Why would you not insure your boat with people who only specialize in boats?' Now, he's asking for half of my winnings," says Watts.

An avid boater, Watts says he has owned his 21-foot Chaparral bow rider for 12 years, but wishes he could take some of the winnings for a down payment on a new 25-foot Cobalt cruiser. However, the out-of-work residential land developer admits that the money will come in handy paying the bills.

Even with the downturn, Watts says boating remains an important part of his family's lifestyle. They also own a personal watercraft.

More than 550,000 people entered the year-long sweepstakes that began in January 2009. Entries were earned by either playing the DockIt game at BoatUS.com or by starting or renewing a BoatU.S. membership, which offers boaters services such as insurance and on-the-water towing, boating safety programs, and marina discounts. The association is also a boaters' advocate on Capitol Hill.