The third time was really the charm of Dude Perfect co-founder Coby Cotton.
Cotton and the four other founding members of the Frisco-based sports and entertainment company had their third model rocket contest in early July, and Cotton had lost the previous two. The only thing at stake during these competitions was a golden rocket trophy. This time the prize was a trip to outer space.
Cotton’s rocket soared 7,412 feet in the air, surpassing all other competitors’ rockets, but nowhere near as high as it will be aboard the next Blue Origin rocket en route to space. He will be a crew member on New Shepard’s 22nd flight, which takes off on Thursday.
Cotton started the Dude Perfect YouTube channel with his twin brother and three of their college friends in 2009, after a video of them doing backyard basketball shots went viral. It has since grown to become the fourth sports channel on YouTube.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with a mission to enable millions of people to live and work in space. Part of this plan includes human flights under the New Shepard program, and Cotton will be aboard the sixth human flight.
The cost of Cotton’s ticket was not disclosed, but Dude Perfect did not pay for the seat. MoonDAO, a company working to decentralize space travel, raised $8.3 million in Ethereum, some of which was used to fund Cotton’s travels. The actual payment to Blue Origin was not in cryptocurrency, said MoonDAO co-founder Pablo Moncada-Larrotiz.
“We sent [Dude Perfect] an email that was just like, ‘Hey, we’d like to send you to space,’” Moncada-Larrotiz said with a chuckle.
People who donated to the fund received a “governance token” that they could use to vote for the company they wanted to fund. The members did not vote specifically for Cotton. They voted for Dude Perfect, and the Dude Perfect guys used the rocket launch contest to determine which of the five members got the spot.
Coby Cotton is an “awesome guy,” Moncada-Larrotiz said. “He’s very down to earth, ironically.”
The official mission patch features a basketball to represent the popular Cotton and Dude Perfect videos that helped YouTubers gain popularity. Each astronaut on board will carry a postcard as part of Blue Origin’s Space Postcards program, in which students can send postcards to take into space. After the trip, the card is stamped “Flown to Space” and returned to its sender.
Cotton, a Texas Tech graduate and a native of The Woodlands, did not respond to an interview request on Monday.