Illinois teams compete in Red Bull competition to earn their wings

By Kate Cullen

To many students at the University, Red Bull is synonymous with giving students the extra push to help them stay awake so they can study longer, and once the studying is over — party harder. The drink that famously claims it will give you wings, recently put that mantra to the test when the company announced an international competition named “Red Bull Can You Make It?” The competition challenges contestants to travel from various locations in Europe and end in Berlin, Germany, using only cans of Red Bull as currency.

That’s easier said than done. For those of us who studied abroad, money goes quickly, so not having any may be the contestants’ biggest challenge. The contestants must use cans of Red Bull in exchange for housing, food and transportation.

Red Bull did not allow individual people to sign up for this competition, but instead, asked that teams of three form together and create a video describing why they could “make it.” Thousands of teams from all over the world posted videos describing why they were worthy enough to compete in Red Bull’s version of the Amazing Race.

Usually, companies that post international competitions, such as these for publicity, rarely get a second glance. It’s like winning a competition posted on the back of a cereal box — no one actually believes they will ever win. But with the odds against them, five teams from the University entered into a social media brawl against other applicants, as they fought tirelessly for the most “likes” on their videos. 

Students from the University had the power to send the Illini overseas as the competition depended on votes. The teams asked University students to rally behind them to represent the University on an international level, and students delivered.

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    As a result, over the last several weeks the Red Bull competition has claimed the attention of many students, making it the focus of many social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter.

    Magnificently enough, two of the five teams from the University, each consisting of three students, qualified to compete in the race. Red Bull will fly them across the world to challenge their skill, wit and resourcefulness as they attempt to make it to Berlin first.

    The two teams from the University, Team Illini and Team Corn Stars, will begin their journey on April 4 and have until April 11 at 5 p.m. to make it to the finish line using nothing but Red Bull cans. Team Illini will begin their adventure in Vienna, while Team Corn Stars will start in London.

    Though both teams represent the University, there seems to be a healthy competitive spirit between the two. Team Illini and Team Corn Stars are familiar with competing against each other as they attempted to garner votes from friends and family to qualify them to become contestants in the competition.

    Team Illini’s members are Matt McClone, senior in civil engineering; Carson Masterson, senior in civil engineering; and Naveen Rajadhyaksha, junior in industrial design, and they think they have what it takes to win this competition. For Team Illini, the challenge has already begun as they have worked tirelessly to promote their team, gain votes and prepare themselves for what may be one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.

    Carson Masterson described how experience makes them qualified candidates: “Collectively we’ve spanned five continents and 39 different countries. Each trip has had its own variety of adventures and challenges.”

    Team Illini thinks their prior travel experience proves that they are able to “make it” and that they will use creativity to make this trip their own. They will have to use their designated Red Bull cans not only for transportation, but also for sleeping accommodations, and Team Illini believes they are prepared to meet this challenge.

    In addition to having the skills that make them competitive candidates, Team Illini hopes to represent the University and make everyone in Illinois proud. Next week, Red Bull will give Team Illini their wings as they are flown off to Europe. I’m sure they will remember that the University will be here supporting them as the wind beneath those wings.

    Kate is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].