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Far from losin': Winfrey winners finally get their prizes

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JAMES P. LEUTE
October 14, 2011
— As they waited for the afternoon taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Georgia Garman and her daughter Michelle Allen saw people leaving the morning taping with gift bags.

"We figured we missed out, but we still wanted to see the show," Garman said of that Tuesday in November 2010.


Turns out the morning taping was for the final segment of "Oprah's Favorite Things," a show where she gives everyone in her studio audience one of her favorite things.


When Garman, Allen and the 273 other studio guests took their seats for the afternoon taping, Winfrey acknowledged their disappointment at not being involved in the final giveaway.


After stringing the audience along, Winfrey announced that the afternoon taping was actually for an unprecedented "Part 2" of "Oprah's Favorite Things."


To fully understand the pandemonium that erupted, watch the video on Winfrey's website.


"It was absolutely crazy," said Garman of South Beloit, Ill.


"They had to take 10 minute breaks to calm the audience down," her daughter added. "It took about two and one-half hours just to tape the show."


The wait was worth it: Each studio member left with the keys to a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.


Garman and Allen took delivery of their Beetles on Thursday at Frank Boucher Volkswagen in Janesville. Each had a sticker price of $21,665.


The excitement level Thursday was nowhere near that of last November's taping.


That's what an 11-month wait will do.


Still, the mother and daughter oohed, aahed and nodded approvingly has they played with the Beetles in Boucher's showroom.


"I love it," Garman said.


Allen, who lives in Rockford, Ill., was going to see if she could swing a deal to swap hers for a Volkswagen Jetta.


Tickets for the taping didn't just go to anyone.


Earlier in the year, Garman wrote the show a letter describing why she was an ultimate fan who deserved a seat at a show for "Ultimate Viewers."


"I am one because I watched all the shows for 25 years," she said.


A producer followed up with a phone interview. Garman passed muster for the show, which ultimately aired Nov. 22, 2010.


Volkswagen got involved with the Winfrey show and donated the cars in an effort to drum up excitement for the vehicle, which was redesigned for the 2012 model year and only recently started showing up in showrooms.


This wasn't the first time Winfrey gave cars to audience members.


In 2004, she handed out keys to 276 Pontiac G6 sedans.


The effort soured somewhat when audience members learned they'd be responsible for thousands of dollars in taxes and fees.


This time, however, Volkswagen is covering all taxes and fees.


"That's a good thing," Garman said. "I first told Michelle that she'd have to take out a loan just to pay the taxes."



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