Carl Eller is a Minnesota icon.
Eller is further cementing that leadership through his new and innovative game with the Minnesota State Lottery. Moose 81 is Eller’s fully patented card game, branded with his Hall of Fame jersey number and “Moose” nickname.
“The idea came from seeing the World Poker Tour on ESPN, and I had the motivation to invent an original idea for that popular type of platform,” said Eller, illustrating his process in creating the game. “Then it was of course natural to want to bring it together with the popularity of football. Basically I reasoned that a card game could be a sport.”
Bringing together the social platforms of football and poker is clearly brilliant, and may leave many saying “Why didn’t I think of that?” Always one to be thorough and diligent with his passions, Eller took the entrepreneurial steps to solidify a patent for his game.
“It took a long time going back and forth to the patent office. Essentially you have to make clear that it’s an original idea, with the additional criteria that it’s not something obvious,” outlined Eller.
The final gathering for Eller’s statewide tour with Minnesota Lottery staff purposefully took place near his north Minneapolis home, at the well known Old Colony gas station on Washington Avenue.
Surprised fans and knowledgeable super fans excitedly filed in and out through the midday event, finding various pieces of memorabilia for Eller to sign, while taking pictures and sharing stories. Super fan Ken Botzet of Coon Rapids quickly rushed to the event thanks to a friends’ text, after seeing the event on Facebook.
“Carl is one of the few guys that makes himself available,” said Botzet.
As a keystone to the Vikings famed Purple People Eaters of the 1970s, Eller is certainly well known. Yet beyond his football regard, Eller is embraced for his warm, avuncular nature.
Minnesota State Lottery Sponsorship and Promotions Manager Gina Hubley conveyed the best story of the tour, when a 50-year-old man brought a picture taken of himself, his father and Eller, when he was only three years old. The exchange, as Eller signed the long treasured photo, left some in tears. Minnesota State Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten glowingly noted the affect Eller consistently has with children.
“One family drove several hours from Wisconsin just to see Carl,” said Van Petten.
“I really want to compliment the folks at the lottery, because there’s a lot of competition for new games,” said Eller. “Ed Van Petten was particularly insightful on getting the game out to the communities across the state. The game makes for a great social event. People love football, and together it really appeals to a broad spectrum of people we’ve seen in testing and experimenting. It especially goes great with the fantasy football crowd.”
Seeking deeper causes within his gaming enterprise, Eller noted the desire to make underserved and defamed communities, such as African-American athletes, whose intellect is often questioned, to understand they are capable of original ideas, and the ability to drive commerce. Through Eller’s business development with Moose 81, as well as his Game Plan II program – an initiative helping athletes needing to see the broader life opportunities and easy pitfalls driven by their athletic careers – he is still demonstrating profound leadership in the Minnesota community and beyond.
“This is a new career for me with Moose 81, so I’m just appreciative to see continuous growth in so many areas of my life,” said Eller. “The game is for everybody, not just good card players. It’s a cross between blackjack and poker, but also with the football lingo and theme to make it even more fun and entertaining.”
The Moose 81 game is available at all Minnesota Lottery locations.