Lindale's great debater wins $150,000

The city of Lindale is not only known for its country music stars, but its debaters as well.  Philip Hayes, 17 just won a huge national debate contest, earning him $150,000 in scholarship money.  He sat down with KLTV 7's Courtney Lane and talked about his accomplishment.


You can't miss the Hayes' house, or comprehend what $150,000 will do for his future.

"It's mind-bottling to win something like this," said Philip Hayes.

"As soon as they announced it, I started crying," said Philip's mom Janet Hayes.  Philip entered a program called "Now Debate This," an online competition where high school students from all over the country argue who was the better president, George Washington, or Abraham Lincoln. For Hayes, it was Washington.  With his gift of gab, the Lindale teen has ensured his college future plus gained experience money can't buy.

"I got to meet 15 other kids from across the nation who also were interested in history like I am," said Philip.  "Got to learn a lot more about history and really understand George Washington and Abraham Lincoln better than I think most people do.  Got to travel all over the United States.  It's really been the experience of a lifetime, and I'm real grateful for that."  His final win was determined by online votes, so he knows none of this would be possible without a ton of support.

"It's really been humbling to see how the community can really rally around someone and help them," said Philip.  Hayes just flew back from New York where he was interviewed on national television.

"We've always introduced ourselves as Ron and Janet and this is our son Philip, said Philip's father Ron Hayes.  "Now, we're being introduced as Philip Hayes' parents, and we've got to get used to that I think."  But of course all this fame and accomplishment didn't come without a lot of hard work.

"I think I've read more this summer than I have in the past few years," said Philip.  So what's next for this great debater?  He's starting his senior year at Lindale High School and after that, the sky's the limit.

"He's basically put the world at his feet, and it'll be another ride to see where he goes," said Janet.  Philip isn't sure where he wants to go to college yet.  He's going to spend this year looking at schools, but he definitely wants to continue debating.

Courtney Lane, Reporting.