Savannah Bowie, age 12, received an early Christmas present Wednesday night when she got to meet her favorite Baltimore Ravens player, star kicker Justin Tucker.
Savannah traveled from her home in King George County, Va. with her mother, Colleen Stortzum, and her stepmother, Jen Wallace, of Waldorf in Southern Maryland, to the Greek Village Restaurant and Lounge in Bel Air to meet Tucker, who was there for an autograph signing.
Savannah did not know she was going to see Tucker until the trio arrived – mother and stepmother kept the Tucker aspect of the trip secret.
"I almost started to cry," said Savannah, who got a football and a jersey autographed.
She also wore a shirt that said "This Girl Loves Justin Tucker."
"This is all she wants for Christmas, to meet Justin Tucker," Stortzum said.
About 350 tickets to the autograph signing event were sold, according to the co-owner of the restaurant, Theresa Orfandis. Tickets were priced at $40 for each item signed, plus $5 per authentication.
Orfandis and her husband, Pete, have been running Greek Village on Baltimore Pike since 1995.
Ticket holders could relax, eat and drink in a heated tent in the restaurant parking lot while they waited to meet Tucker.
The Pro Bowl kicker sat at a table in the lounge area, greeting fans, signing merchandise and posing for pictures.
"He was very friendly to everybody," Theresa Orfandis said after the event.
No. 9 has made 33 out of 34 field goal kicks this season, and he tied an NFL record Sunday during the Ravens' victory against the Philadelphia Eagles when he made his 10th 50-yard field goal this season.
"He's the best kicker in the NFL, so people are going to come out for him," Orfandis said.
The Ravens will play their arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Christmas Day as the teams battle for the top spot in the AFC North and a playoff berth.
Orfandis said Wednesday's event drew about 100 more people than attended an autograph signing at the restaurant with former Ravens wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones following the Ravens' Super Bowl championship in 2013.
The restaurant co-owner gave credit for the larger crowd to online ticket sales, promotion on social media and having a heated tent for overflow crowds.
"We tried to make it more available to people," Orfandis said.