VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — When a Virginia man picked out a diamond engagement ring, he thought he'd be offering it to his longtime girlfriend.
But when the relationship ended before he could pop the question, he decided to ease his heartbreak by offering the unused ring to a couple who couldn't afford one of their own.
Late last year, Steven Crocker, 23, had orchestrated an elaborate proposal involving a visit to Universal Studios for his girlfriend of two years, according to People. But just a month before the big trip, Crocker's girlfriend broke up with him.
"I was very sad," he told Today Style.
Adding insult to injury, Crocker had spent nearly a year paying off the $1,700, 14-karat white gold ring, and it was tough to see it without feeling the pain of the breakup.
"My mom knew that, so when I was at work, she took the ring and put it somewhere I wouldn't be able to look at it," Crocker told Today.
A few months went by before Crocker felt ready to take the ring back. In March, after attempting to sell the ring several times and receiving frustratingly low offers, he came up with a very different strategy.
"It’s not about the money, for me, it’s about love, and I’d hate to see a good ring go to waste," Crocker wrote in a Facebook post. "So I'm going to give it away."
But not just to anyone. So much of Crocker's heart had gone into the selection of this particular ring, so he wanted to make sure the recipient understood that kind of love.
"I want to give it to a guy or girl who is so in love with their significant other and wants to take the next step but cannot afford a ring," he wrote in the March 4 post. "I don’t think that anyone on MY friends list falls in that category, but someone out there does, which is why sharing this post is very much appreciated. I’ll send it anywhere in the US where someone is head-over-heels."
In order to enter the contest, hopeful lovebirds need only to submit a video sharing their love story and counting the ways they deserve the chance.
Romantics around the world quickly fell head-over-heels for Crocker's proposal, and within days he had over 1,000 submissions.
“They’re coming in faster than I can read them,” he told People. “It’s nice to hear about people having someone who has stuck by their side through hard times, or if they met in a unique way by chance. There are very different stories and it’s nice to hear that not everything has to happen online nowadays.”
Along with the video submissions, hundreds of messages of support and love have flooded Crocker's inbox. He's even had a few dozen woman ask him out, he told Today.
The self-proclaimed "shy" news cameraman wasn't expecting this type of attention, but told People the outpouring of kindness has done wonders for his broken heart.
“I think this will definitely help me heal, for sure,” he said. “I hope whoever gets it — even though I’m sure they’re already happy — feels like it’s another bonus.”
Crocker's story caught the attention of Kay Jewelers. On Monday, Crocker revealed on his Facebook page that the company had offered to resize the ring for free.
"They have also offered to make a donation to the charity of my choice to continue the spirit of paying-it-forward," Crocker wrote. He plans to donate to the Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation in honor of his ex-girlfriend's father.
There's still time to sneak in a submission — Crocker plans to select a winner once the frenzy dies down.