Kent Augustine may seem like your everyday, ordinary teenager. Originally from Queens, he is the senior class president at his high school, runs track and field events and enjoys amateur photography. At the age of 16, he also happens to be a finalist in the sixth annual National Texting Competition, competing for a grand prize of $50,000.
Texting since he was 13, Augustine first learned about the competition by watching a commercial on MTV.
"I stumbled upon this game about three years ago. Back then, they had it on MTV where during a commercial break, they'd have a quote on the screen where you'd text it to them, and that's how you'd get in, but I'd never really win," says Augustine.
The competition, which has been going on since 2007, is sponsored by LG. The company sent him the LG Optimus smart phone. Finalists get the same equipment so they can practice their techniques. Although he has the iPhone 4, Augustine admits that he is a faster texter on the LG due to its keyboard.
Augustine says he practices every night for about 30 minutes and sends about 100 text messages a day. He says his biggest competition is returning champion, 17-year-old Austin Wierschke from Rhinelander, Wis.
Augustine's texting may sometimes distract him from his chores (his parents have taken his phone away as a punishment in the past). But if he wins this competition, it could mean more than $50,000. It could mean the end to any future complaints from his folks about overusing his phone.
Testing his texting
Allowing us to test his texting speed for ourselves, we had Augustine send us a text of our choosing as we timed him.
In 20.1 seconds, we received a typo-free excerpt from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” (“Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”) Not too bad for someone whose best texting time is usually about 15 or 16 seconds.