ST. MARYS — Seventy-two people walked into Easy Campground in St. Marys with an equal shot of walking away with $10,000 as part of a promotion hosted by two area newspapers.
The Evening Leader, of St. Marys, and the Wapakoneta Daily News crowned the winner of the Dash for the Cash promotion Tuesday night. One-by-one, 72 participants walked across the stage until there was only one left standing. In the end, New Bremen resident Jon Wente walked away with the cash and a smile.
“Unbelievable,” Wente said shortly after he was the last name drawn from the hopper. “I don’t usually win too much so this is kind of a shock.”
The promotion paired advertisers with customers — customers could registered for the contest at a slew of local businesses for a shot at the money. The reverse raffle awarded prizes donated by the sponsors to all the finalists, with the $10,000 going to the last name left in the hopper. Wente registered at Replay Consignment.
Wente, who admitted he was still in shock, said he was unsure of what to expect when he walked into the event. Before the final drawing, Wente noted that if he won, he planned to share the money with is wife, Christine.
“I guess I thought I had a pretty good chance,” Wente said. “I just never dreamed I would be the last one standing.”
The top 10 finalists were called up to the stage and waited as their name was called. Wente said the experience was nerve-racking.
“Reality set in that it was a whole new ball game,” Wente said. “There were only 10 people left so you had a pretty good shot at it.”
Wente said he was unsure of exactly what he will spend the money on but had a list of options.
“I know we were thinking about getting some new furniture and some other things for the house,” Wente said. “We’ll do a little remodeling there. A lot will go toward that.”
Wapakoneta Daily News Publisher Dianna Epperly, who also is the Horizon Ohio manager, said she was happy to be able to award Wente the $10,000 prize. She also thanked the advertisers for allowing the papers to host the annual giveaway.
“It’s awesome,” Epperly said. “It’s just a nice promotion and it’s even more so for the advertisers. It brings everybody together, it gets people in advertisers’ stores, they get to meet these people and these people get to meet them. It’s just a good thing.”
Epperly said her favorite part of the event is watching the people react as their names are pulled from the hopper.
“Watching the people get excited,” Epperly said. “Like this — he (Wente) had no idea why he was here and he walks out with $10,000. Where else can you go on a Tuesday night and get a one-in-72 chance — it’s better than a lottery ticket.”