Benton senior wins $25,000 after throwing his own ‘safe’ prom

BENTON, Ark. — One Benton High School graduate did not let this pandemic stop him from throwing his own prom and winning a big prize that came along with it.

Ryan Taneja just graduated from Benton High School and, like many seniors, his prom was canceled, leaving him and his best friend Savannah devastated.

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“We were hoping that it would be postponed and things would get to a point where you would be able to have a prom, have a last dance,” Ryan said.

So, Ryan decided to take matters into his own hands and threw Savannah her own prom in a Sonic parking lot.

“We all stayed six feet apart and took photos in our respective cars,” he said. “I got her a crown, I got her everything.”

Ryan entered the pictures they took into a nationwide contest through Sonic. The restaurant chain was looking to crown a Quarantine Prom King and Queen. The winners received $25,000 toward a new car.

“Luckily for our case, we both got to represent Arkansas in the finalist part of the competition,” Ryan said.

He said it was exciting to see two kids from Arkansas competing for the grand prize among hundreds of other seniors across the country.

“We kind of corralled our entire community to partake in this little event to represent little Benton, Arkansas,” he said.

Ryan was announced Prom King a few days later after winning the nationwide voting.

“I get a crown, I get a sash, and I also get a car, which is really exciting,” he said.

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Unfortunately, Savannah was not crowned queen. But Ryan said the experience of their own prom was a win either way… and brought them closer together.

“She didn’t know that I was going to go above and beyond and surprise her and give her a moment in time she would never be able to forget,” he said.