North Texas Vet Wins Car in Raffle, But There’s a Catch

The organizer who raffled the car said he didn’t realize the car had a lien on it.

A North Texas man said he won a used 1998 Lincoln Coup in a charity raffle, only to be told later he had to pay $2,400 before he could pick it up.

"It should be my car," said Robert Lewis, an Arlington businessman, part-time preacher and veteran.

He bought raffle tickets at the Veterans Thrift Store in Pantego on Pioneer Parkway to support a charity walkathon.

Owner Randolph Brown, who said he sold about $900 in raffle tickets, acknowledges Lewis won.

"We contacted him the moment we pulled the ticket at the walkathon," Brown said. "He was enthused. We were happy to have him take the vehicle."

But before Lewis could pick up the vehicle, Brown said he realized there was a problem when he tried to transfer the title.

"We found out there's a loan out on the title from a title company," said Brown. It was a lien, he said, for $1,800. "We don’t have that kind of money," Brown said.

Lewis said Brown told him the lien was $2,400, not $1,800.

"Naturally, I'm like, 'Well, there's something going on here,’" Lewis said. "You don't win a car and then have to turn right around and have to pay $2,400."

Asked if he could understand why Lewis was upset, Brown said, "You know what? I'm upset too. Because I pride myself on trying to do the right thing."

When Lewis refused to pay the money, he said Brown texted him: "Robert I have instructed my staff to pull another winner."

But when NBC 5 went to Brown's office, we found he was advertising the same car for sale for $3,500. Records show the car has been registered to Brown personally, not his charity, for the past two years.

Lewis said he was surprised to learn that Brown put the car up for sale after the raffle.

"Now he's trying to make even more money on top of the raffle tickets," Lewis said. "This is ridiculous."

Asked if it was fair to sell the car after collecting the raffle money, Brown said, "I’ll tell you what, the money went to a very good cause. It went to a cause trying to help our veterans."

Lewis is a veteran himself. 

"This guy's got the nerve," Lewis said.

After NBC 5's interview at Brown's office, he said he had decided to pay off the lien himself and give Lewis the car for free.

At the same time, Brown asked for more donations.

"I'm taking a leap of faith to take care of this issue that has arisen, and hopefully the community can come out and help me back with the money that I'm going to have to give out anyway," he said.

Lewis said he picked up the car on Friday without having to pay for it but is still not happy with his experience.

Brown said he considers the matter over.

The Better Business Bureau said legitimate raffles don’t require additional money to get the prize and that people should never pay any extra fees, no matter the reason.

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