“I asked one of the Lions’ officials on the field during halftime when I picked the prize among three finalists if it was real,” said Jessica Peterson, 23, of Sterling Heights.
“I was told the key I had in hand was the one that would start the engine on the Mustang not far from me on Ford Field. The official also said: ‘I wouldn’t lie’ about a thing like winning a Ford Mustang when I questioned her.”
The three finalists came down to the field during halftime of the Dec. 14 NFL game and each pulled a small gift box from a “Santa” bag. Then Ford Motor Co. and Lions officials counted to three. At the count of three, the contestants opened their boxes and that’s when Peterson found a key in her box, she said.
The key was for a special edition 2015 Lions silver Ford Mustang. The car has blue Lions drawings on the fenders, blue rims, and Lions symbols embroidered on the seats, Peterson said. The loaded vehicle, including a customized exhaust, V-6 engine and automatic transmission, is worth more than $37,000.
Peterson works at the autism center in Clinton Township operated by the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. The autism center helps children with autism between the ages of 18 months up until age 6, said director Frankie Groce. Currently, the center serves 27 children with autism and MORC has another autism center in Troy.
After Peterson had the key in hand, “I entered the car and blew the horn and was thrilled.”
Her boyfriend, Jake Slep of Royal Oak, and Peterson received two free end-zone tickets on the Lions’ side of the field to the game.
Peterson had filled out a form to win the car at the Royal Oak Ford dealership off of Woodward on Black Friday, the much-hyped shopping day after Thanksgiving. She said she didn’t do any regular Christmas shopping that day, just visited the dealership with her boyfriend.
Peterson was called by a Lions’ official who told her she was one of three finalists from more than 65,000 people who filled out the form at a Ford dealership in southeast Michigan or online to win the unique Mustang. It was part of a promotion to have motorists test drive a Ford.
“When I found that key in the box, I was excited, happy and nervous all at once,” Peterson said.
“I was happy just to win the tickets to the game,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to win the Mustang.”
The Lions took plenty of pictures of Peterson with her Mustang. She also said her boyfriend and others also recorded the event on video.
Peterson said the two other finalists, a man and woman, were good sports. Each gave her a congratulatory hug as they looked over her shoulder at the sparkling car.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.