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The Corn Hole Cave

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One of the fastest growing sports in the country, complete with corporate sponsors, excited fans and top competitors earning six figures a year is … cornhole?

Yes, you heard it right. Cornhole, a deceptively simple game of tossing bean bags into targets, has moved from the backyard and stadium parking lot into the heady realm of professional sports — yes, it is a sport.

A small handful of pros are starting to make a living playing American Cornhole League-sanctioned events. The regular cornhole season starts in October and runs through August. The league puts on five championship tournaments, the first held at the Super Bowl in February — not on the gridiron proper, of course, but at a venue nearby — leading up to the world championship in Rock Hill, South Carolina in August. In all, about $1 million is at stake.

If you question the popularity of the sport, talk to Josh Thielen, a Minnesota transplant and Livermore player. This year, he finished in the top 24 in the open standings to become one of just 254 professional cornhole players. He and his cornhole partner, Corey Gilbert from Sacramento, now compete regularly.

Thielen’s not quitting his day job as the vice president of marketing for a Silicon Valley medical tech company, but he’s definitely cornhole focused.

Thielen’s cornhole dream began innocently enough with a neighborhood game, shortly after he, his wife and two children moved to Livermore five years ago. Their street had a cornhole tradition. While the kids played and ran around, the adult tossed bags.

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