A loud pop sounded in the Post Falls Findlay Nissan dealership Wednesday as a balloon burst, sprinkling confetti over a 2017 Nissan Versa and startling a few of the high school graduates gathered around.
The 21 graduates, accompanied by their respective entourages of parents and siblings, had come to the dealership in hopes of winning the brand-new Versa, top prize in the dealership’s “Buy a Car, Raise the Bar” lottery.
Perfect attendance and a minimum 3.5 GPA during the students’ second semester senior year won 24 students entry into the lottery, sponsored by the dealership to encourage high academic performance. Twelve students qualified from Post Falls High School, eight from Lake City High School and four from Coeur d’Alene High School.
Many otherwise-eligible students lost their place in the drawing after “Senior Skip Day,” said Rob Smith, general manager of the Nissan and Chrysler dealerships in Post Falls.
The qualifiers needed to be at the event to receive the car, so when three didn’t show up, the odds of the present qualifiers climbed slightly.
The last name to be pulled from the raffle drum would take the Versa home, Smith said.
The crowd let out small exclamations of dismay as candidates were removed from the running. The atmosphere was tense, but the dismay was accompanied by smiles and support. Many graciously shook off their loss with a smile or laugh.
One by one, 19 name slips were read, 19 names were crossed off a whiteboard, and 19 students walked up to receive consolation gift bags. The audience clapped the whole time, congratulating the students on their graduation despite not winning the car.
When only two pieces of paper remained in the drum, the general manager invited the finalists, Travis Kaufman and Robyn Robinson, onstage.
The general manager picked from the remaining two slips of paper, read the name Travis Kaufman, and, in a move reminiscent of the 2015 Miss Universe reveal or the 2017 Best Picture Oscar, began congratulating the young man before an assistant interjected that Robinson was the real winner.
Confusion prevailed for a moment, but the dramatic culmination quickly resolved to a happy ending as Robinson accepted her prize.
The Nissan Versa is the winner’s first car and an upgrade from borrowing her parents’ suburban, Robinson said.
“I don’t have very good luck,” she said, her ear-to-ear smile giving lie to the statement.
The dealership will cover tax and license costs.
“This is going to help a lot,” Robinson said. Her grandparents live in Pullman and she’ll be able to commute now.
The Post Falls High School grad will attend the University of Idaho after finishing general studies at North Idaho College.
Editor’s note: The original online headline of this article used an incorrect title for the dealership’s lottery because of an editor’s error. It was corrected on June 15, 2017.
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