An Obama Fan Who Isn't Coming
Amid the hysteria over inaugural airfare, tickets and Washington hotels, one woman actually won the entire package -- and then, to her dismay, had to turn it down.
Bonnie Podewils, 43, of Knoxville, won a trip to the inauguration after winning an online game show. Instead of roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and two tickets to the inauguration, however, she opted for $1,700 in cash and $1,000 in gift certificates from restaurant.com.
“This money is for Christmas,” said Podewils, an Obama supporter, in an interview. “It needs to be used to pay bills.”
Her family is hurting financially and beset by medical bills. Podewils says she would have loved to make the trip to Washington but ultimately decided the cash would be of more use to her family -- which also includes husband William, 11-year-old son Billy and 19-year-old daughter Tiffany.
“It’ll help a great deal,” said Podewils. “We can get some things taken care of, get our household in better shape.”
Podewils was one of thousands who played two games -- www.ObamaGameShow.com and www.McCainGameShow.com -- created by 7.TV LLC for the ReacTV web site. (7.TV creates games to do market research.)
The games tested player knowledge of the candidates and previous presidents, explained 7.TV CEO Frank S. Maggio; the Nov. 3 finale combined questions about both candidates with news headlines and other topics.
Podewils, who enjoys online games and hopes to compete on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” someday, began playing both the Obama and McCain games heavily in October after hurting her back while mopping the floors of West Park Baptist Church, where she worked. She gained the 200,000 points necessary to compete in the finale while on medical leave.
But her worker’s compensation ran out in late October, and both Podewils and her husband had outstanding medical bills from trips to the hospital earlier this year. Food and gas prices, meanwhile, have taken a toll on the family’s finances, she said, as have school loans.
Ultimately, she said, circumstances made the decision for her. “I want to go to Washington so bad,” said Podewils. “It wasn’t feasible for me to go even though I wanted to. Deciding has just made me sick.”
-- Brittany Levine, washingtonpost.com
Washington Post Editors
November 26, 2008; 9:50 AM ET
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