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Oklahoma City Barons: How fans have had their lives changed after winning cars from the Barons

by Michael Baldwin Published: April 4, 2014
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HIGH SCHOOL music teacher Jack Mitchell retired early because of his good fortune.

After Jim Stanley won, people asked him if he owned Oklahoma City’s Triple-A hockey team.

Living a real-life Daily Double, Asberg Mahanti’s lottery-like luck arrived the night after he was married.

Mitchell, Stanley and Mahanti are among two dozen people who have had their lives turned upside down after they won a car or truck at an Oklahoma City Barons game.

When the American Hockey League regular season ends in two weeks, Prodigal LLC, which operates the Barons, will have given away 27 vehicles worth $820,000 in the unique promotion. All of the vehicles are emblazoned with Barons logos.

“People think I’m either the coach or the owner,” said Stanley, who won a souped-up Cadillac. “It’s been almost a year since I won. Every time I get in the car, it’s still so unbelievable. It’s such a cool car.”

One fan at the Cox Convention Center during Saturday night’s game against the Charlotte Checkers will win a Volkswagen Golf.

“Years ago it was a big deal when they gave away $50 at a game,” said Cynthia Hughes, who has attended hockey games in Oklahoma City for 40 years. “Winning a Jeep is beyond belief. You can’t describe the feeling when you win.”

About the giveaways

To be eligible, contestants must be Oklahoma residents and 18 years or older.

Winners own the vehicles for life, but there are two requirements. As is stipulated in a written contract, winners must pay tag, title and tax and leave the logo on the vehicle for one year. If they choose to remove the wrap, the Barons will pay for the transformation to a normally painted vehicle.

But so far that’s happened only once. Winners discover their cars and trucks produce celebrity-like attention. Friends want to take a drive. Strangers ask to pose for pictures.

“I’ll never take the logo off. That’s bad juju,” said Hughes, one of 2,000 season ticket holders. “The thing I always get is, ‘Where did you get that?’ or ‘Where did I get the wrap?’ Everyone thinks it’s so cool because it is cool. It’s a very special car.”

Hughes won the first-ever Saturday giveaway in December 2012. Hughes is a lifelong hockey fan who met Bill, her husband of 39 years, back in the 1970s when Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate played in OKC.

“When I won, the contest was so new,” said Hughes, a financial director for the state Department of Public Safety. “I did TV interviews. My brother called me from Florida. People I hadn’t heard from in years were calling out of the blue, asking ‘Did you really win a Jeep?’”

‘It changed my life’

One obvious benefit of the giveaway is the financial windfall from winning a $20,000 to $40,000 vehicle.

Mitchell said it has allowed him to spend more time with hobbies like Music Central, a local 130-member male and female a cappella group that has fared well in national competitions.

“It changed my life,” Mitchell said. “I probably would have taught another two or three years. With no car payment, it allowed me to retire early.”

Manhanti, 29, won his Ford Fiesta a year ago on April 6, the night after he was married.

Fate turned it into back-to-back, unforgettable lifetime memories.

Born in India, Mahanti moved to the United States when he was 15.

“Just getting picked to be one of 20 finalists is so cool,” Mahanti said. “My mother, who lives in Iceland, and my two uncles from Canada, were in town for the wedding. They were all with me at the hockey game. It’s something you’ll never forget.”

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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