Instant-Win Airbags!

DETROIT–With third-quarter salessluggish and its share of the domestic market down 11 percent since 1993, General Motorsunveiled a new instant-win airbag contest Monday. The new airbags, which award fabulousprizes upon violent, high-speed impact with another car or stationary object, will comestandard in all of the companys 1997 cars. "Auto accidents have never been soexciting," said GM vice-president of marketing Roger Jenkins, who expects the contestto boost 1997 sales significantly. "When you play the new GM Instant Win Airbag Game,your next fatal collision could mean a trip for two to Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans. Ora years worth of free Mobil gasoline." Though it does not officially beginuntil Jan. 1, 1997, the airbag promotion is already being tested in select cities, withfeedback overwhelmingly positive. "As soon as my car started to skid out of control,I thought to myself, Oh, boy, this could be it–I could be a big winner!" saidCincinnatis Martin Frelks, who lost his wife but won $50 Sunday when the Buick LeSabrethey were driving hit an oil slick at 60 mph and slammed into an oncoming truck."When the car stopped rolling down the embankment, I knew Ellen was dead, but all Icould think about was getting the blood and glass out of my eyes so I could read thatairbag!" Hartford, CT, resident Jonathan Ryersonwas killed Sunday when his 1997 Pontiac LeMans hit a freight train. Ryerson won $50 in theaccident. "Its really addictive," said Sacramento, CA, resident Marjorie Kamp,speaking from her hospital bed, where she is listed in critical condition with severebrain hemorrhaging and a punctured right lung. "Ive already crashed four cars tryingto win those Super Bowl tickets, but I still havent won. I swear, Im going to win thosetickets–even if it kills me!" Kamp said that as soon as she is wellenough, she plans to buy a new Pontiac Bonneville and drive it into a tree. GMofficials are not surprised the airbag contest has been so well received. "In thepast, nobody really liked car wrecks, and thats understandable. After all, theyre scaryand dangerous and, sometimes, even fatal," GM CEO Paul Offerman said. "But now,when you drive a new GM car or truck, your next serious crash could mean serious cash. Whowouldnt like that?" Offerman added that in the event amotorist wins a prize but is killed, that prize will be awarded to the next of kin. According to GMs official contest rules, odds of winning the grand prize, abrand-new 1997 Cutlass Supreme, are 1 in 43,000,000. Statistical experts, however, say thereal chances of winning are significantly worse. "If you factor in the odds ofgetting in a serious car accident in the first place–approximately 1 in 720,000–theactual odds of winning a prize each time you step in your car are more like 1 in 31trillion." Further, even if one is in an accident, there is no guarantee theairbag will inflate. "I was recently broadsided by a drunk driver in my new ChevyCavalier," said Erie, PA, resident Jerry Polaner. "My car was totaled, andbecause it was the side of my car that got hit, my airbag didnt even inflate. But whatreally gets me is the fact that the drunk driver, who rammed my side with the front of his1997 Buick Regal, won a $100 Office Depot gift certificate. Thats just wrong."

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