On an early December night, while most people were busy with decorating their homes and preparing for the Holidays, Jason Beem was lying on his couch in his pajamas and – not for the first time that night – refreshed the internet browser on his laptop. That’s when he saw it…
Top Trends on Twitter: 1) Rudy Giuliani – who had just removed his name from consideration for a cabinet position under President-Elect Donald Trump…. 2) Beemie Awards…
For Jason Beem, that moment of seeing the Beemie Awards – HIS Beemie Awards – as a Trending Now topic on Twitter was the culmination of a long, entertaining, and sometimes eventful journey that began early in his childhood.
The Journey of a Lifetime
Like so many horse racing fans, Jason’s love for the sport began at a young age with family trips to the local racetrack, which for Jason was the old Longacres Racecourse just outside of Seattle, Washington. Also like many fans, his love was kindled by that first winning pick…
Not old enough to actually place a bet on his own, his mother would give him $20 each Sunday to take to the track with his father, who would place a $2 bet on each race for young Jason. This particular Sunday, he would see his favorite horse – the big gray Captain Condo – hold off Grandstand Gable to win his second consecutive Space Needle Handicap, AND young Jason had picked the winning exacta for a cool $44.
“I asked my Dad for my winnings,” Jason fondly remembers. “He told me ‘I’ll give it to you on Wednesday’. Turns out he was just pocketing the $20 and counting on my bets losing!”
Despite the short term cash flow issue from this revelation, Jason was embarking on the love of a lifetime.
Aside from learning the ins and outs of betting, Jason also gained an appreciation for the art of race calling at a young age. “I was always enamored with Gary Henson who was the Longacres announcer when I was a kid. I used to impersonate him while I rode my bike around, whipping it with a stick pretending I was a jockey.”
His choice of a future career came on a sunny day in July 2005. Watching from his home track, Jason listened carefully to the race call of the American Oaks, won by a big Japanese filly named Cesario. “She ran off in the post parade, was washing out, but she was still second choice,” remembers Jason. “She proceeded to run off and win the race for fun, but Vic Stauffer’s call of the race made the hair on my arms stand up.”
Two days later, Jason purchased a brand new pair of binoculars and started practicing.
When the suites at Emerald Downs were not in use, you could find Jason there – practicing his race calls. Other times, his new passion would lead him to sitting on the roof at Portland Meadows during the winter months, getting a feel for the track.
“The folks at Portland supported me and let me call a handful of races and that led to me getting hired by River Downs, and I was off on a new career path.”
After getting his first official gig as a race caller at River Downs, Jason went on to also being the full time announcer at both Portland Meadows and Louisiana Downs, along with doing fill-ins and guest calls at Grants Pass Downs, Hastings, and Emerald Downs – which is where his favorite calls have taken place.
“Emerald is my home track. When my Dad was sick, he and I sat at the second floor bar and watched the races together. He is buried on the hill just above the 3/8ths pole there. So every time I was asked to call a race there, it was really special. I’d always look up at the hill he is buried on before the race and take a deep breath.”
During some of those very special race calls at Emerald, his mother was also there to listen, with Jason knowing that his Dad was looking on. For that reason, his biggest dream is to call the Longacres Mile there.
Jason Beem – A Natural Storyteller
As a track announcer, you become a storyteller, because as each race unfolds it becomes a story all its own. Jason, by nature, is an amazing storyteller, and is quick to share some of his many entertaining tales from his time in the booth.
One such story involves a race call at Portland, a bunch of grapes, and a now infamous YouTube video…
“(It was) a Friday night in 2012. I ran downstairs between races and was talking with friends in the tote room. They were having a contest over who could put the most grapes in their mouth at one time. Yes..we were very professional at Portland Meadows. So I ended up fitting like twelve of those things in my mouth, won the contest, and proceeded to eat them. By the time I ran back upstairs and got my headset on, the acid from the grapes wasn’t making my stomach feel too great. So the horses got to the gate and I said ‘The horses have reached the starting gate… it’s post time.’
I hit my ‘mute’ button and let loose a large belch. Only…it seemed to echo outside when I did it. I looked down and saw that the light on my mic was GREEN! I panicked and hoped no one had noticed, but I heard a guy on the apron scream ‘YEEAAAAHHHH!’ Then when I got downstairs everyone at the bar was laughing at me.”
And as luck would have it for Jason, that moment now lives forever on YouTube.
Editor’s Note: Out of respect for Jason, we will not link said YouTube video here ….but …..Google… 😉
As a storyteller, it’s only natural that Jason would take that skill to other endeavors, as well. Outside the announcer’s booth, Jason is also a published author, with his novel Southbound, which combines elements of fiction and non-fiction to describe his personal journey with betting.
Most recently, he has extended his storytelling to the world of podcasts as the host of the popular BARN podcast for the online wagering site Bet America.
Lightning in a Bottle…in 140 Characters or Less
For an outgoing, enthusiastic storyteller like Jason Beem, it may seem odd that his biggest claim to fame yet is in a medium that requires you to use 140 characters or less.
Jason recognized how popular the Twitter platform was among hard core horse racing fans and industry insiders, so he decided to have a little fun with it and created the Beemie Awards. While most folks might assume the Beemie Awards are an awards show for indie rock or something along those lines, many horse racing fans have come to know it as one of the most fun – and anticipated – nights of the year on Twitter.
Jason designed the Beemie Awards to resemble an online awards show, with awards spread out over many creative categories like “Best Humblebrag”, “Best Twitter Hiatus”, and “Best Hair”.
Like so many things that take on a life of their own once they hit social media, Jason never dreamed the Beemie Awards would become, as some have described it, “Racing Twitter’s Biggest Night”.
“The Beemie Awards are a total fluke. I just thought it would be fun to make up kind of a mock award show for horse racing Twitter. Our racing community is pretty bonkers sometimes on there and it’s funny to me to see all the interactions, cliques, and things that come out from it.
Interesting story, I had ‘announced’ the Beemie Awards about five days before I got offered the announcing job at Louisiana Down, which I took. I almost canceled doing them because I was worried maybe they’d be over the top and a new company that had just hired me would think ‘who’s this idiot?’ But they were cool with it.”
From its humble origins, the Beemie Awards have grown to be highly anticipated by many fans, and receiving a Beemie has become almost a bragging right. In fact, many previous winners now have “Beemie Winner” in their Twitter bios and headers.
Just one short year after he almost “broke the internet” with his Number 2 ranking in Trending Topics on Twitter, how does Jason plan on following that up? Well, he and his friends and accomplices Danny and Carly have spent the last 12 months compiling their favorite tweets, videos, photoshops and jokes to have at the ready.
So come 8:30 pm on December 8th, you’ll find Jason Beem on his couch in his pajamas, monitoring every comment, retweet, like, and reaction… refreshing his internet browser repeatedly. Maybe this will be the year that the “Beemie Awards” take over Twitter for that one night, and horse racing will be the number one trending topic on one of the world’s biggest social media platforms.
Barring any unforeseen announcements by Rudy Giuliani.
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