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CONSUMERS : What Do Five Vegas Used-Car Salesmen Buy When They Become Instant Lottery Millionaires?

Times Staff Writer

One of life’s largest fantasies has become fact for five North Las Vegas used-car salesmen: They have won a $7.3-million California Lotto jackpot.

Now they have time and money to work on a second daydream: buying cars to go with their millionaire status.

“Everybody’s out picking out their dream car,” was the euphoric reaction from Ted Dourbet when last week’s win was announced.

Dourbet, 38, owns Carsultant Auto Sales (“the last exit going north on (Interstate) 15 before you hit Nellis Air Force Base and nothing else”) and is a partner in the five-way win. “Up until now, we’ve all been driving the used cars we have here.”

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So did Dourbet rush into town Monday morning and thumb out cash for a pepperoni-red Ferrari Testarossa?

Imported Cars Too High

“Can’t afford it,” he said in a telephone interview this week. “To be honest with you, if I went out to buy a car and put my own plates on it, it would be an ’85 or ’86 Corvette. Imported cars cost too much to fix. . . .”

Did Ken Kirby, 40, another $10 investor in the winning ticket, telephone Italy to order a limited production Lamborghini Countach?

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“Way too frivolous,” Kirby explained. “Try the insurance on a $120,000 car like that. I am going to get my wife a late-model Lincoln or Cadillac, but if I run into a 1967 Corvette, the roadster, I’d probably be a player. . . .”

Is there a new Rolls-Royce, all leather and walnut and royal traditions, in the future of the third winner, 27-year-old car salesman Chester Williams?

“I’m not going to be outlandish,” he replied. “My wife wants a ’55 to ’57 Thunderbird and she’ll get it. I’ll be happy with a 5.0-liter Ford Mustang. . . .”

Possibly there’s a Porsche or maybe a Mercedes for 32-year-old co-winner Lance Hoffman?

“I don’t like Porsche or Mercedes,” he said. “The one toy I’m going to buy for myself is a (Chevrolet) IROC-Z. You see, I’m from Cleveland originally and when I was a kid growing up we never had any money. . . .”

Phil Phillips, 44, chose to avoid the press this week.

Dourbet relayed the question across the office.

“Hey, Phil!” he yelled. “What’s your dream car going to be?”

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Phillips’ reply was a burble in the background. Dourbet came back on the line. “Phil says a Cadillac,” he said. “A Sedan de Ville.”

Not a BMW in the bunch. The Snakeye State has cast a straight vote for the all-Detroit ticket. It follows that these five sons of the Armor-all and asphalt bazaar also have no qualms about buying used dream cars.

So, on the first Wednesday after delivery of their initial lottery checks, the quintet plans to visit an old auction haunt, the California Auto Dealers Exchange in Anaheim, and do some serious lot shopping.

“But this time, we’ll be standing in the specialty lane where they roll out all the high-priced cars,” Kirby said.

The last time was March 15.

Kirby, Dourbet, Phillips, Williams and Hoffman were bidding on anything that might turn a dollar on Carsultant’s lot.

They bought a few, lost a few, and on the drive back to Las Vegas, boss Dourbet called a stop in Victorville to buy Lotto tickets for his mother-in-law.

“I told the guys: ‘Why not put in $10 each and we’ll get $50 worth,’ ” Dourbet recalled. Williams said he wasn’t a gambling man. “But I told him: ‘Chester, this means your life. If we win, you’re set for life.’ ”

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They won. Yet they aren’t set for life. Better positioned, maybe. For federal taxes will take $1.5 million from the top of their jackpot. Total payment will be in 20 annual installments of $292,800. Split five ways, that’s $58,560 per player per annum.

“Or about what I’m making now,” Williams said.

And certainly not enough, they agreed, to splurge on exotic two-placers or elegant four-seaters that could cost more than $200,000 to buy, $10,000 to insure, $4,000 to license--and there go your first four lottery payments.

Adding to the reality is the crust the five have developed from working in the second-hand car business. Put another way: When you own the farm, an endless supply of bacon tends to build a desire for Spam.

“When you can drive anything on the lot, you get burned out,” Williams agreed. “That’s why I’m interested in the 5.0-liter Mustang. I haven’t driven one. We had one for a day but it was sold before I could get in it.”

Larger Dealership

Dourbet now drives a Cadillac Biarritz brought in to Carsultant for resale. “Frankly, I’ll go to the Anaheim auction and buy the Corvette . . . but the moment I drive it off the lot, it’s for sale,” he said.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the men plan to bury their winnings in CDs and blue chips. What they won by a gamble they intend to invest in yet another gamble--an equal partnership of the fortunate five in a larger and better located dealership.

“I’ve got some serious desires and this (lottery win) makes me dangerous,” Dourbet explained. “Together, I think we can conquer the wholesale car market. At least control it.”

Meanwhile, they’ll spend a few bucks on five satin jackets.

Their six winning numbers will be embroidered on the back.

The jackpot amount will be stitched on the front.

“People will ask: ‘What do the numbers mean?’ ” Hoffman said. “Then we’ll tell ‘em and we’ll start talking.”

And he’ll steer them toward a used car.


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