It was a joke.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered good news in Columbia County Tuesday. The city of Hudson will receive $10 million after being selected as the Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council's winner of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
The competition awards $10 million grants to 10 municipalities — one in each of the state's 10 regional economic development councils. But Cuomo seemed to indicate that there would be additional prizes given for the runner-up finishers.
Cuomo said there were 104 applicants in the 10 regions and lauded the entries as "great plans."
"What we're going to do because we have so many good plans, we're going to have just 10 first place winners that would receive $10 million," he said. "We're going to have second place winners also that win $5 million ... We're going to have third place winners that win $2.5 million, fourth place winners that win $1 million and a set of steak knives."
While the $10 million prize is real, the consolation prizes are not. Cuomo was joking, although that's not how it was received. The Associated Press, which reported on the grant for Hudson, mentioned that the other top finishers would receive funding.
It's not the first time Cuomo has announced a downtown revitalization grant and referenced consolation prizes that didn't actually exist.
In 2016, he visited Oswego to reveal that the city was the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council's winner of the $10 million prize. Much like his speech in Hudson Tuesday, he provided the number of applications received statewide (there were 122 last year) and noted that the competition for the grants was "very, very stiff."
And then came the joke.
"Ten first place winners win $10 million. There are second place winners that win $8 million. There are third place winners that win $6 million and a fourth place winner that wins a plaque and a set of steak knives," Cuomo said. "You really don't want to be the fourth place winner even though they are nice knives."
Cuomo was trying to be funny, but at least one municipality — the city of Auburn — briefly thought they could be in a position to receive millions in funding despite not winning the competition. That wasn't the case.
Abbey Fashouer, a spokesperson for Cuomo, said the governor "made a joke in jest about the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which is now in its second year and has fostered fierce competition among communities across the state."
She added, "To be clear, there is one $10 million award for each of the state's ten regions, and there is currently no funding in the budget for steak knives."