Former 9/11 NYC Firefighter Wins Car
In 1952, at 21 years old, Tex Earnhardt was the youngest person ever to be awarded a Ford franchise. “They said they were going to give me a truck to drive, and I said I’ll take it! I didn’t even ask what kind it was.” Tex recalls.
With an emphasis on family values and integrity, using his friendly cowboy persona, and with the help of his famous catch phrase “That ain’t no bull!”, Tex turned a one car gas station into one of the largest family-owned dealer groups in the nation.
To celebrate 60 years of business in Arizona, Earnhardt Auto Centers staged one of the biggest prize giveaways in their history. The contest, which was conducted mostly online, was a scavenger hunt to “find Tex”.
Of the 5000+ contestants, 60 finalists were randomly chosen to participate in the prize drawing event earlier this month at Earnhardt Ford in Chandler.
The finalists were treated to a delicious catered lunch as well as entertainment provided by DJ Steve, the multi-talented Zachary the Magician, and Nancy the Face Painter. Even the mascot, Rex “The Bull” was on hand to join in the festivities.
The main event, of course, was the prize drawing. The 60 finalists and their families gathered under the main tent as Tex Earnhardt said a few appreciative words and thanked everyone for their business over the years. “It started 60 years ago with ‘no bull’, “ Tex said. “And that’s what we’re all about: no bull… honesty and giving you a fair deal. And today, someone is going to win a new car. And that ain’t no bull!”
With the help of Tex’s great granddaughter and DJ Steve Doll, the prize winners were chosen.
Three people won tickets to the Cardinals / Steelers game, six people won $600 gift certificates to Earnhardt Auto Centers, two people won an Apple iPad 2, one person won $6,000 cash, and one person won a brand new car.
Former 9/11 NYC Firefighter, Michael Virgadamo, who entered the contest hoping to win an iPad for his wife, was stunned when Tex Earnhardt announced, “The winner’s initials are M.V.”
From the crowd, Michael called out, “Is it Michael Virgadamo?” saving Tex from having to pronounce his last name.
After taking a few moments to accept congratulations from the Earnhardt Family, Michael made two phone calls: the first to the Scottsdale Fire Department, where he now works, letting them know he was going to be a little late to work, and the second call to his wife, Lisa.
“I need you to get down here right away to help me pick. I won the car.” He said calmly.
Lisa, who was in the middle of a community clean-up event for their daughter’s school, dropped everything and safely raced down to Earnhardt Ford in their new Dodge Journey (which ironically was purchased just a few weeks earlier from Earnhardt Dodge in Gilbert).
Of the five new vehicles they had to choose from, Michael and Lisa decided on the 2012 Hyundai Elantra.
“When I found out I didn’t win the iPad I was going to leave.” Michael shared. “I’m glad I stuck around.”
To see photos of the event, visit http://facebook.com/EarnhardtAutoCenters