Sometimes persistence pays off. A lot.
Such was the case for Norwood Young America’s Shelby Gratz, who won a $10,000
shopping spree from MyTalk 107.1 radio earlier this month.
The station was offering the spree to one of its fans in celebration of its 10th year on the air, and Gratz, a dedicated listener, made a point to get her name in the mix. Over the course of a month the station offered 107 listeners the chance to spend the evening at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. From that pool of winners, the $10,000 winner would be picked through a lottery system.
“I’ve been a loyal listener for probably the full 10 years,” said Gratz, an IV nurse who said she spends plenty of time in the car traveling around to various work locations and listening to the station, which specializes in news and celebrity gossip.
Even before she won the shopping spree, Gratz’s selection for the dinner almost never occurred. First, the station announced that all 107 winners had been chosen for the dinner and the chance at the $10,000 prize.
“They said it was closed and I was like, ‘Oh, whatever. At least I can relax,’” said Gratz, who estimated she called the station about 50 times during the contest. “I had been trying for a month to win this stupid thing. I had the station on speed dial ready to go. I got so frustrated that I didn’t want to call anymore because I was sick of losing.”
Then the station announced that a mistake had been made and three spots were still open. Gratz called in during the morning of that announcement when the time came, but didn’t win. She had a stroke of luck, however, when the contest was announced
again in the afternoon for the second to last time.
“I had taken the afternoon off from work and I was taking my kids to Target. They wanted to sing some songs for me so I had to turn the radio down,” said Gratz. “It came on and I was driving with my kids and I didn’t have my phone ready. I was stumbling for my phone, finally found it, and my second time dialing in I got it, so that was exciting.”
When Gratz and a friend arrived at the dinner that night, she and the other winners were issued a credit card. Throughout the evening, a number would be announced every
10-15 minutes, and if all the numbers matched those on the credit card, that individual was one of 10 individuals taken up on the stage for the final number announcement.
“My numbers kept matching, but I kept thinking that everyone’s numbers must be matching,” she said. “I didn’t really start paying attention until the end when it was like, ‘Oh my goodness. They’re all matching.’”
Gratz took her place on the stage along with nine others and waited for the big announcement. When it came, Gratz realized she had been selected.
“I kind of went nuts and screamed like a schoolgirl. One of the radio personalities, I
hugged him and started screaming in his ear. They’re going to give me the video so I can embarrass myself by showing people,” she said. “I just started screaming, ‘I don’t believe it.’ I was jumping up and down and my friend was there so I grabbed her and we started doing the thing where you jump up and down and hug each other.”
After heading home for the night and informing her husband William, Gratz had only a few hours to plan out her spree. She pulled out a notebook and began listing stores and items in order to make the most of her good fortune. She had $10,000 to spend, but could not spend more than $2,000 at any one store, couldn’t make online purchases and couldn’t buy gift cards. The money had to be spent, and items could not be returned for cash later.
“They set it up so you really had to spend $10,000 in about four and a half hours,” said Gratz. “Of course I only slept about two hours that night.”
The big day
The next morning a limousine picked up Gratz and her husband at 8 a.m. and took them to the radio studio in Minneapolis where Gratz was introduced as the winner to listeners on the air. She said the experience was fun but a little nerve-wracking at the same time.
“You stand up there and they put the big microphone in your face and say ‘3, 2, 1.’ You’re like, ‘Uhh….’ But they asked questions and helped you along,” she said.
From there, Gratz, her husband a few assistants and radio personalities Lori and Julia left the station and made stops at Mall of America, where Gratz purchased suites at the water park for family and friends, a diamond wedding band since it was her ninth anniversary with her husband, a Coach purse and a refrigerator.
They also went to Target, Gander Mountain and Fleet Farm, purchasing items for their children, a pair of Swarovski binoculars for William, a paddle boat and a pair of kayaks. Each stop was conducted at a frantic pace, since there was little time to spare.
“The limo would stop and we’d all just pile out. We were so pressed with time. I
t was go, go, go,” said Gratz. “There was really no shopping. I wrote a list and then I went here, here, here, here, and just checked them off the list. There were two radio personalities and two assistants, so I could tell them what I was looking for and send them off so I could focus on what I was doing. It is weird because if I had known or thought or had more time, I would have walked around the stores and decided what I wanted. I didn’t have that luxury — but who can complain about that?”
Needless to say, the group made a bit of a scene hustling around the stores.
“I wore a banner and people were looking at me,” said Gratz. “We’d walk in, I’m wearing this banner, I have this entourage of people following me, and we’re walking at a brisk clip, so a lot of people asked what was going on and then they were like, ‘Oh cool!’”
After returning to the radio station, where they were teased about the price of the binoculars (“They said, ‘you better be able to see into the future for that much money,” Gratz said with a laugh), the group headed out again, this time with radio personalities Ian and Margery. From time to time during the day, the group checked in by phone while shopping and clips of the calls were played on the radio. In all, Gratz said she was on the radio three or four times during the day.
“Now when you listen to the station, they still play the repeat of one of the times I was talking,” she said. “It’s fun.”
After a stop at the Minnesota Vein Center, Gratz had just minutes remaining and still had money to burn. Then fortune smiled upon her again, as the group drove past a liquor store. When then last of the money was spent at that location, there were only about 10 minutes left in the allotted time.
Aside from the shopping, Gratz said every aspect of the day was fun, including the chance to meet and talk with the people she was familiar with from the radio.
“That was really cool. Those are the people I listen to all the time. They were just like they were on the radio — very energetic. Every part of that day was so much fun. Riding in the limo, being with these people — of course the $10,000. But every part of
it was so much fun in and of itself. After we left the station the limo guy drove us home. My husband and I were sitting in the back of the limo drinking champagne. It was the best rush hour ever. What a good day. We just spent $10,000 and there we were, sitting in the back of the limo.”
Gratz said it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that she never anticipated, despite her best efforts calling in.
“You just don’t win, for the most part,” she said.
Except when you do.