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Contest glitch awards cars to Gaither High friends


Published:   |   Updated: June 11, 2013 at 03:51 PM

TAMPA - A glitch in a contest for high school seniors caused a local dealership to give away two brand new cars instead of one.

Owners of Toyota of Tampa Bay, 1101 E. Fletcher Ave., wanted to reward 200 Hillsborough County seniors for perfect attendance by giving them a chance to win a 2013 Scion xD.

About 130 students showed up Saturday for the drawing. Their names were placed in a bowl and the students whose names were the first 10 drawn selected a key in a pile of 10.

The student then walked up to the Scion to see if the key opened the door.

Monica Tromer, 18, a Gaither High School graduate, was the third student who had a chance to win the car. She picked a key and tried to unlock the car.

It appeared that her key turned the lock, but she walked away disappointed, school district officials said.

When student No. 10 couldn't open the door, owners decided to have a second round, allowing the 10 seniors to try the keys again.

Chance No. 11 went to Davie Chen, 17, another Gaither grad, and the key he selected unlocked the Scion. Minutes later, dealership owners realized that Tromer actually selected the correct key during the first round.

Tromer, who was near tears, told contest organizers that the key she selected turned the lock but she thought the horn would sound when she did.

Tromer said she didn't know that if the key simply turned in the lock, she won the car.

Instead of sending her home empty-handed, owners decided to give her a car identical to the one Chen won.

"I tried to open the door, but I guess I didn't pull hard enough," Tromer said.

This is the third year Toyota of Tampa Bay held the contest. Past winners came from Freedom and Armwood high schools.

Tromer and Chen are friends and both will attend the University of Florida in the fall. Tromer will be a pre-med major and Chen plans to study molecular biology.

They plan on taking their matching Scions with them to Gainesville as soon as they get their driver's licenses. Tromer has a learner's permit; Chen has yet to take the test.

"Now I have the motivation to get a license," Chen said.

rreyes@tampatrib.com

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