The Internet is up in arms today after a Texas Toyota dealer has come under fire regarding the outcome of a charity raffle. The dealer, Toyota of Rockwall, recently collaborated with non-profit charity The Genesis Center to raffle off a desirable 1994 Toyota Supra.
A local resident battling cancer donated the Supra, which had 144,209 miles on the clock, to The Genesis Center. The charity then reached out to Toyota of Rockwall, which worked together to promote a raffle benefiting victims of domestic violence. Contestants could purchase a single ticket for $20 or six for $100. All proceeds of the raffle would directly benefit The Genesis Center and would not net a return on the $7,000 that Toyota of Rockwall invested into the car. Additionally, the other five sponsors involved invested a total of $10,000, bringing the total charitable investment to restore the vehicle north of $17,000.
This all sounds great, right? A charity, a great dealership who provided a base to help raise money. So why is the internet upset? As it turns out, the dealership and charity allowed staff and family members to purchase tickets for the drawing. The winner of the raffle, announced on Toyota of Rockwall’s Facebook page, was the General Sales Manager’s wife, Rebecca Rawls (misspelled as “Rebecca Rawl” on the official drawing announcement, as well as the Genesis Center’s fundraiser page).
In a statement later released by the dealership, it was announced that Rawls had gotten together with four other people who each decided to pony up $300 for tickets, netting them six tickets for every $100 spent. Though the exact number of tickets sold is unknown, the dealer reported that they raised over $50,000 for The Genesis Center, making lowest number of tickets sold around 3,000. This means that the pool that Rawls bought into, which purchased 90 tickets, had a 3% chance of winning the raffle.
The individuals then agreed, per a post on Toyota of Rockwall’s now-deleted Facebook page, to sell the Supra and donate the generated funds back to The Genesis Center. An unconfirmed eBay auction by seller “rawlsdanny09” (The dealer’s General Sales Manager is named Danny Rawls) can be found here, which offered a 1994 Toyota Supra with 144,599 miles for sale until 6:27am on Sunday April 23, 2017 before being pulled. The ad states that the car has had prior paint work and does not mention a new interior, which doesn’t exactly line up with what Nancy Schoenle mentioned.
The dealership did not immediately announce the correlation or the plans to resell the vehicle, which it claims that the winners did not wish to disclose their intentions of an additional donation to The Genesis Center at that time. Because of the time frame of over a week between the initial announcement of the winner and the public statement over the controversy, many are claiming that the dealership may have not taken the best approach in this situation, even going as far as calling the raffle a “scam.” Their Facebook page received numerous one-star ratings, which ultimately resulted in the page being unpublished.
Toyota of Rockwall ensures that they took precautions to protect the raffle from favoritism and even worked with the donor's wife so that she would pull the winning ticket and not the dealership. The dealer also states that they followed state laws very closely to avoid conflict of interest. We're not playing the blame-game on this one, but we can understand why the internet is upset with letting employees and their families take part in the raffle. As of 8:00pm EST, Rawls has been removed from the staff section of Toyota of Rockwall's website (a snapshot from March shows him still on). What do you think? Should it have been made clear that employees were eligible and that the manager's wife won? Should the announcement come sooner from the dealership?
The General Manager of Toyota of Rockwall was unavailable for comment.