Gas card winners feel lucky

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Gayle Gragg won $500 in Shell gift cards in this year's Big Gas Giveaway. (T-G Photo by Sadie Fowler)

The $500 gas gift card could not have come at a better time for Gayle Gragg, this year's top winner of the Big Gas Give-away. Gragg, a graduation counselor for Community and Cascade High Schools, is on the road a lot, with plenty more miles to drive in the upcoming weeks as she completes a degree in Johnson City.

"I was so excited when I got the call," Gragg said. "I'm on the go all the time, and I love to travel. Who knows, maybe there's a road trip in the near future?"

Gragg is a regular contest-player -- however, this is the first time she's won a prize this large. She picked up the top prize, with two others sharing the remainder of the pot. She said she and a friend put their heads together to come up with the correct number of logos hidden in a special advertising section published Dec. 26 and both entered the contest.

"I barely beat the deadline," she said. "I dropped off my entry form at 3:30 and (publisher Hugh Jones) called me at 5 p.m. to tell me I had won."

Ruth Neese said she thought someone was playing a trick on her when she learned she had won $300. (T-G Photo by Sadie Fowler)

The correct number of logos was 15, and nearly two out of three contestants had the correct answer, Jones said. Contestants who had the correct answer were put into a box and three names were drawn with the top winner receiving $500, second place receiving $300 and third taking home $200.

The contest was sponsored by Southern Energy; 1,067 played this year's game, which is one of the Times-Gazette's most popular advertising sections of the year.

While Gragg never considered herself lucky in the past, Eddie Burris II, who picked up the $200 prize, said he thinks he might need to buy a lottery ticket while his luck is hot. Not only did his mother win the top gas prize several years ago, but this year his step-grandmother Ruth Neese won the $300 prize.

"I told my mom we need to buy a Power Ball ticket tonight," said Burris, a father of two and fireman for the Bedford County Fire Department. "The year's starting off good so far."

Eddie Burris II, Neese's step grandson, claimed $200 from the contest (T-G Photo by Sadie Fowler)

Shortly after Burris came by to claim his prize, Neese picked up her $300 prize and agreed with her step-grandson, saying the family was going through a lucky streak.

This year was the first time Neese played such a game. She said winning was a huge surprise.

"I've never won anything," she laughed. "When I received the call I thought someone was playing a trick on me."

Neese, who lives in Wartrace, said she doesn't drive a whole lot but will use some of the gas money for the little she does drive and share the rest with others.