Talk about a bargain. The national attention Iowa has received this year -- for something other than the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses -- is priceless.

State marketing officials couldn't buy the amount of positive publicity Iowa has gotten the past few months. Sports have provided some special moments in 2021.

First, Iowa center Luka Garza was a consensus pick for national college basketball player of the year. The Washington, D.C. native ended his career as the school's all-time leading scorer and his No. 55 was retired by the Hawkeyes.

A regular season Major League Baseball game was played in Iowa for the time on Aug. 12. The Chicago White Sox hosted the New York Yankees in a make-shift, 8,000-seat stadium surrounded by corn at the Field of Dreams movie site near Dyersville. The national broadcast by FOX Sports had an estimated 5.9 million viewers, the highest television ratings for a regular-season game since Oct. 1, 2005.

The White Sox and Yankees spent the night dazzling the fans and TV viewers, hitting ball after ball into the tall Iowa corn. The teams combined to hit eight home runs, the last being a two-run, ninth-inning walk-off blast by Tim Anderson that gave the White Sox a 9-8 victory.

Then on Sept. 11, the only college football game featuring two top 10-rated teams was played at Jack Trice Stadium Ames and ESPN brought its popular College GameDay preview show to the Iowa State University campus. The No. 10 Hawkeyes defeated the 9th-ranked Cyclones 27-17.

The national spotlight that's been shining brightly on Iowa will continue to illuminate the next few months with the upcoming release of the sports drama biographical film focusing on Kurt Warner's rags-to-riches story.

The Burlington native who grew up in Cedar Rapids and was UNI's starting quarterback for one season, was invited to the Green Bay Packers training camp but was cut and went to work stocking shelves at a Cedar Falls grocery story. Warner eventually got a second chance in the NFL and made the most of it. He led the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl title following the 1999 season and was twice named the league's Most Valuable Player.

An American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story is scheduled to be released on Christmas Day. Produced by Kingdom Story Company and distributed by Lionsgate, the movie stars actor Zachary Levi playing Warner. Academy Award-winning actress Anna Paquin plays Brenda Warner (Kurt's wife) and Dennis Quaid as then-Rams head coach Dick Vermeil.

Kurt and Brenda Warner are listed as executive producers.

The movie's official trailer was released to a nation audience on ABC'S Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night. Levi and Kurt Warner appeared on the show. Here's a preview of the biopic hitting the big screens on Dec. 25, 2021.

Video Credit: Lionsgate Movies via YouTube

American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story

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