BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Education Association announced the 2023 winners of the annual “Be a Champion and Read” contest this week.

According to the AEA, the statewide contest challenges public school K-6 students to read six appropriate read-level books to qualify for the grand prize.

Each year, there are two winners. One is an Auburn fan, while the other is an Alabama supporter. The grand prize allows for the winners to the attend the Iron Bowl with two guests and includes sideline passes with pre-game activities.

Alysa Hatchett, a fifth grader out of Beulah Elementary School in Valley, won for Team Auburn. Sixth-grader Caleb Harrison from Clanton Intermediate School in Clanton took the grand prize for Team Alabama.

The students were informed of their triumphs at surprise school assemblies in front of their classmates. Aubie, Auburn’s mascot, gave Alysa her award and presented her with a signed autograph from Tiger head coach Hugh Freeze. Alabama’s mascot Big Al presented Caleb with his award and handed him a signed autograph from Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.

“This contest has shown yet again that tens of thousands of Alabama elementary school students are fired up and excited to read,” said AEA President Dr. Susan Williams Brown in a release. “AEA established the Be a Champion and Read contest in 2011 to help motivate young students to develop a love of reading knowing that reading is a building block for all other skills and learning. This contest is another way for AEA to help establish foundational reading skills and increase students’ reading proficiency.” 

There were 37,000 students who entered the competition in 2023.