On Saturday I decided to skip my usual weekend routine to check out the LG National Texting Championship in New York's Roseland Ballroom. More than 300 text messagers crowded the historic space to show off their texting skills and earn a chance to take home the $25,000 grand prize.Before the National Championship, LG hosted a West Coast texting tournament where 21-year-old L.A. college student Eli Tirosh won $10,000 and the West Coast crown. Tirosh is an articulate and polished aspiring TV legal correspondent.
Before the competition, I had a few minutes to interview the West Coast texting champ.
Eli, what is the secret to your text messaging skills?
I constantly text my friends at school. And it's how I communicate with almost everybody.
What is your weapon of choice?
I use the LG V. I plan to switch to the LG enV on Monday after the competition is over.
What else do you do on your phone besides texting?
I check my e-mail, get directions, and store my contacts.
Are you afraid of any of today's East Coast competitors?
No. I feel good about today.
What do you plan to do with the prize money if you win?
I'll use it for law school.
Well, Eli didn't know that she would eventually face-off against one mean text-messaging machine in the form of 13-year-old Morgan Pozgar of Claysburg, Pa.
But first, a little backgrounder on the competition. West Coast champ Eli waited in the wings while the East Coast competition cranked on. The first round consisted of 300 competitors all using the LG texting phone. In the first round, the competitors were split between tables, with four competitors per table. Each table had just one winner, with the other competitors eliminated.
Each contestant started off the round with their hands behind their backs and their phones folded up sitting on a table. There was a countdown and at the end of each countdown, the competitors had to grab their phones and then immediately text a 150-character phrase displayed on a giant monitor.
The competition placed emphasis on both speed and accuracy. Anyone who entered a phrase incorrectly -- and this included even the slightest typos -- could not win the round, no matter how fast they entered their messages.
After the first round, there was a round of one-on-one faceoffs to qualify for the semifinals. After the semifinals, Morgan Pozgar faced off against Michael Nguyen for the East Coast title. Morgan crushed Michael, winning $10,000 and the right to compete against Eli for $15,000 in additional winnings.
After a short break, Eli and Morgan stepped up to the stage. Morgan again showed off her prowess as a text messager, typing out the first two lines of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins in just 15 seconds.
After the competition, Morgan told me, "I am so shocked right now. I am nervous."
When asked what she wanted to do with the prize money, she said, "Now I want to go shopping." Morgan said that she sends more than 4,000 text messages a month.
In addition to the main cash prizes, LG gave away $1,000 to winners of several consolation rounds, as well as four plasma TVs.
UPDATE: Go here for a photo gallery of the LG National Texting Championship.