After winning $275K earlier this year, Chicago amateur bowler set to challenge pros for another shot at big prize

After Chicagoan Luis Gonzalez won 237-226, Kyle Troup, who has been a pro since 2008, told Bowlers Journal it was “the toughest loss of my career.”

SHARE After winning $275K earlier this year, Chicago amateur bowler set to challenge pros for another shot at big prize
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Luis Gonzalez beat a seasoned professional in a bowling match earlier this year for a grand prize of $270,000. Now, he’s competing for another large sum.

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Luis Gonzalez didn’t know what to think. The amateur bowler from Chicago was four good throws away from beating a seasoned professional and winning a $270,000 check — one of the largest prizes awarded in competitive bowling history.

Gonzalez felt excited and anxious as he entered the ninth frame with a comfortable lead over Kyle Troup in the championship match of the inaugural Bowlero Elite Series.

The Romeoville crowd, which had been rowdy over the course of that April afternoon, fell silent. Gonzalez let out a deep breath and took several steps while swinging his left arm like a pendulum. The heavy ball thumped onto the glossy wooden lane.

From the time of the release, Gonzalez knew what he had done. The fuchsia ball curved perfectly right for a strike.

“There are no words that can really describe [that moment] other than life-changing and just a good experience,” said Gonzalez, who grew up on Chicago’s North Side.

After Gonzalez won 237-226, Troup, who has been a pro since 2008, told Bowlers Journal it was “the toughest loss of my career.”

It was a special moment for Gonzalez and his family — one he wishes he could’ve shared with his late father, who got him hooked on bowling when he was 4 but who died of an apparent suicide 11 years ago.

“I try to make him proud because I’m sure he’s watching down on me,” said Gonzalez, who honored his father, also named Luis, before every match by pointing up. “I just try to do anything I can do to make him proud.”

Gonzalez celebrated with his family and friends at the Romeoville bowling alley for several hours. But his party was short-lived because he had to report to his day job the next morning as a pharmacy technician at Cardinal Health.

It has been eight months since Gonzalez’s historic upset. He spent some of his earnings on a down payment for his Elmwood Park home. He also took his wife on a weekend trip to Lake Geneva for their first wedding anniversary.

Life has treated Gonzalez well this year. He plans to keep his positive vibes rolling into the new year and has been training for the last few weeks to defend his BES title in Jupiter, Florida, later this month.

Similar to the first tournament, Gonzalez will compete in three single-elimination rounds against amateurs. The winner of that side of the bracket will face the winner of the other side, which consists of Professional Bowlers Association members, for the championship match.

The ultimate prize: $100,000.

“I’m just excited to go out there again,” said Gonzalez, who practices two to four times a week. “It’s just an amazing opportunity.”

Gonzalez is sure his father is looking down on him with a smile. When his father’s sudden death 11 years ago left him angry and hurt, it was bowling that helped him get through.

“I knew he wouldn’t want me to quit,” said Gonzalez, who has bowled a 300 on numerous occasions. “So at that point, I put more work into my game and try to improve as much as I can.”

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Luis Gonzalez and his son, Logan, wave at the crowd after Gonzalez beat professional bowler Kyle Troup.

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Gonzalez has passed his love of bowling on to his 4-year-old son, Logan, who will be in Florida for his father’s second nationally televised bowling tournament.

“He still has [the bumpers] up, but he doesn’t really use them much,” Gonzalez said of his son’s bowling skills. “For his age, I would actually say he’s actually pretty good.”

Growing up, Gonzalez’s goal was to try and beat his father at the sport. Now, the tables might be turning.

“I grew up with my dad playing it and with my family, and just seeing [Logan] share that same love, it’s awesome,” Gonzalez said. “Having that special bond with us on the bowling lanes is all I can ever want.

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