In minutes, 2 win national car contest

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Nine-year-old Taylor Hays shows how she pressed the OnStar button Tuesday to help her mother, Linda Cessna, left, win a new 2004 Chevrolet. The win was within minutes of Diane Landers’ winning a car in the same contest. Landers is at center.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[2/18/04]In a matter of about 2 minutes Tuesday two people in Vicksburg beat the 1-in-5,500 odds of winning a new car.

Diane Landers of Natchez and Linda Cessna of Vicksburg were both lucky at Atwood Chevrolet in the General Motors Hot Button 1,000-car nationwide giveaway, making it a total of three giveaways in Vicksburg and 11 statewide.

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At George Carr Buick Pontiac Cadillac GMC two weeks ago, a Vicksburg couple won a luxury SUV.

Landers was hopping from dealer to dealer Tuesday in search of a new Chevy Impala.

“I had a 1999 Monte Carlo until about a week ago when it rained so hard that it flooded my car up to the dashboard. The insurance considered it totaled, and I’ve had a rental car since then,” said Landers, who was about to head to Jackson to meet her boyfriend when she remembered to play the giveaway game.

To play the game, a car shopper must sit inside a designated promotional vehicle installed with OnStar, an automated phone system that connects the driver with an operator who can provide directions, road assistance or other services.

Entrants press the promotional OnStar button, answer a few questions such as home phone number and driver’s license number, and the operator tells if a free car is in the offing.

“I was passing through Vicksburg and saw the Chevrolet sign from the interstate so I stopped,” said Landers. “I’m so glad I did. I can’t believe this it’s such a blessing in disguise,” she said.

Cessna and her 9-year-old daughter, Taylor Hays, were getting the oil changed in their 2002 Impala at Atwood when she heard all the commotion from Landers’ winning inside.

“I couldn’t believe she’d just won, so we decided we’d try it just for fun. Taylor pushed the button. She’s my lucky charm,” said Cessna.

“I’m excited,” said Taylor, who, like her mother, was still a little bit shocked.

The total number of game-equipped vehicles available nationwide is about 5.5 million. There are 1,000 vehicles being given away, including 625 Chevrolets, 130 Pontiacs, 104 Saturns, 70 GMCs, 43 Buicks, 15 Oldsmobiles, six Cadillacs, five Saabs and two Hummers.

The giveaways are entirely random. No test drive or sales presentation is required. One person per household can play the game only once at each dealership.

Winners do not know what type of car they have won at the time of their winning, only that they will receive a new 2004 edition of the same brand vehicle they won. Since Landers’ and Cessna’s winning vehicles were a Monte Carlo and Tahoe, respectively, they both win 2004 Chevys exactly which model they’ll find out in a few days.

Winners are responsible for all taxes and expenses of their new vehicles including sales or luxury taxes, title and license fees and insurance.

Parker and Mary Louise Stevens of Vicksburg also won Feb. 4 through the giveaway at George Carr Buick Pontiac Cadillac GMC.

The Stevenses have dealt with the George Carr dealerships numerous times for trade-ins and new vehicles, but the couple had one particular mission that day.

“We came just to push the button,” said Parker Stevens. “We had been meaning to do it for a few weeks, but as luck would have it, we waited.”

The couple won a 2004 GMC Yukon XL fully loaded and valued at more than $47,000.

The giveaway started Jan. 4 and ends Feb. 29.