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Manteca Ford gives away 2006 Mustang
Almost 500 people crowded on to the showroom floor at Manteca Ford Mercury for the drawing. - photo by Photo Contributed
Stockton resident Jason Butler wasn’t really expecting anything when he walked into Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford Mercury dealership on Super Bowl Sunday to enter a drawing for a 2006 Ford Mustang.

After all, the odds in winning a prize like the one that Waterford was giving away weren’t very good to say the least, and he wasn’t even sure that they would actually give the car away.

But when Waterford – who was speaking to a man that he thought might have been the winner through a series of eliminating factors – announced Butler’s name, he erupted with surprise and eventually became overcome with emotion as the reality settled in.

“It was all a little bit overwhelming to say the least,” Butler said about the experience. “It was surreal because I had never won anything in my entire life.”

In reality, just under 500 people showed up for the giveaway out of the 800 people that had been selected throughout the region by doing everything from mailers to handing out fliers to customers walking out Wal-Mart and the recently opened Bass Pro Shops.

When Waterford started pulling the names out for the drawing, the first six people that were called weren’t even there to claim the prize – building up the tension and excitement even more for those in attendance.

Once he pulled the seventh ticket, Waterford announced to the crowd that the winner was from Stockton and lived on West Lane – whittling the crowd down to only 35 people – the energy in the packed showroom intensified even more.

And then Jason Butler got the shock of his life.

While he says that he’d love to ride around town in the shiny red Mustang, he plans on selling the car and giving one-third of the proceeds to his church and the remaining money to his wife before he leaves on a mission out of the country next week.

“It’s ironic because people like me don’t usually get to win things,” Butler said – noting that is a recovering addict and has had troubles in the past. “People that spend their whole life taking usually aren’t given anything, and that’s why it’s so important that I share this with people.”

While he has held car giveaways in the past, Waterford said that he purposefully thinned the field to make sure that somebody who showed up that day walked away with the car – a big difference from the odds that come from a mailer that hits 27,000 homes.

During these tough times, he said, people need a reason to have hope to get through them.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get through these tough times – we shouldn’t focus on the negative things but the positive things that can get us to where we need to be,” Waterford said. “Seeing somebody that can actually benefit from something like this come out as the winner is amazing.”

Waterford said that the general atmosphere of the event – which turned into a Super Bowl party complete with pizzas and appetizers – impressed him so much that he’s planning on giving away a car every month as long as he’s financially able to.

“When the praises go up, the blessings come down, and that makes it easier for us to navigate our way through these tough times,” Waterford said. “If I can help give somebody hope and help them out along the way, then that’s the perfect combination.”

Regardless of what happens in the future, Butler says that he’ll always have a special place in his heart for Waterford and the opportunity that he gave him.

“I’m a very spiritual person – I turned my life over to God, and I believe in the power of prayer,” Butler said. “Mr. Waterford is an awesome human being, and I can’t explain how much that he has helped both me and the people in my life and I’m forever grateful of his generosity and love.”