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Wrong Winner Gets Prize After All

October 22, 1987

DALLAS (AP) _ A car dealer relented and awarded $10,000 to a woman who earlier had been told it was a mistake when her contest-entry key opened a grand prize safe.

″I never thought I would have to go through this to win $10,000 in a contest,″ said Beatrice Taylor, who complained about being denied the money Saturday after her key opened the safe but a computer showed her key wasn’t the winning one.

George Grubbs Jr., whose Lincoln-Mercury dealership sponsored the contest, called Mrs. Taylor back Wednesday afternoon.

″He said he wanted to make me happy,″ said Mrs. Taylor, 72.

Grubbs said that after the story was reported in a Dallas paper Wednesday, the dealership received several calls from people supporting Mrs. Taylor’s claim.

Grubbs said he discussed the problem with the dealership’s manager, the Locksmith and Tony TaCito, whose company ran the contest.

″I determined that in my opinion, Mr. TaCito should pay her the $10,000 as a goodwill gesture,″ Grubbs said. ″It takes a lot of luck to be the 1-in- 5,000 that has the key that fits. It takes even more luck to have a key that doesn’t fit and still get the lock open.″

Mrs. Taylor received the key in an advertisement mailed to her home.

When she went to the dealership Saturday, the key opened the grand prize safe. But within minutes, employees of the dealership and the company running the promotion told her there had been a mistake.

According to the contest’s rules, the winner had been predetermined, and the person whose key opened the lock had to be the same person whose name had been pre-selected, TaCito said. The winning key went to another woman who did not show up at the promotion.

Jim Blair, general manager of the dealership, said the problem was a faulty lock.

The dealership and TaCito had offered Mrs. Taylor consolation prizes, but she wasn’t interested.

Mrs. Taylor said she would give 10 percent of the money to ″Christian workers″ and some of the remainder to her two grandsons.

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