The third time really was the charm for 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 competition at the start of July, and Cotton had lost the previous two. The only thing on the line during those competitions was a golden rocket trophy. This time, the prize was a trip to space.
Cotton’s rocket soared 7,412 feet in the air, past all of the other competitors’ rockets but nowhere near as high as he will be aboard the next Blue Origin rocket on his way to space. He will be a crew member on New Shepard’s 22nd flight, which blasts off 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 trick shots went viral. It has since grown to become the fourth-biggest sports channel on YouTube.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, with the mission of making it possible for millions of people to live and work in space. Part of that plan includes human flights through 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 didn’t pay for the spot. MoonDAO, a company that strives to decentralize space travel, raised $8.3 million in Ethereum, a portion of which was used to fund Cotton’s travel. 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 cast their vote for the company they would like to fund. Members did not vote for Cotton specifically. They voted for Dude Perfect, and the Dude Perfect guys used the rocket launch competition to determine which of the five members earned the spot.
Coby Cotton is an “awesome dude,” Moncada-Larrotiz said. “He’s very just down to earth, ironically.”
The mission’s official patch has a basketball on it to represent Cotton and Dude Perfect’s popular trick shot videos that helped the YouTubers rise to massive popularity. Each astronaut on board will carry a postcard as part of Blue Origin’s Postcards to Space program, in which students can send in postcards to be taken to space. After the trip, the card gets stamped with “Flown to Space” and returned to its sender.
Cotton, a Texas Tech graduate and native of The Woodlands, didn’t respond to a request for an interview on Monday.