Pepsi put on a first rate, top of the line party. They treated all 200 contestants and 200 guests like royalty. Diet pepsi (and all the other pepsi products) available in ice tubs all over the place, the entire weekend. As Karen said, it was lovely bit of diet pepsi heaven. *grin*
Probably the best part of the weekend was the people. Had people from 43 states - lots of chatting. The three most asked questions after introductions? Where are you from? How did you win? How many times did you enter?
A lady from Kansas - who was so excited, she was almost crying, because she had gotten to see the ocean for the first time.
A tiny retired school teacher/lawyer's assistant from Oregon who was able to sing the Pepsi jingle from the 1950's. She then told the emcee that they sang a slightly different version at her conservative Presbyterian college - she then sang the slighty risque version that somehow worked in the word "prostitution". Shocked the emcee *grin*
Picked up the luggage and immediately saw the first of many Pepsi staffers in blue shirts. Directed us to the bus and off we went to the Manhattan Beach Marriot. Figured out which hotel was ours by the big Pepsi logo balloon on top of the hotel, the big signs across the building "Pepsi Play for a Billion", and all the pepsi logo beach balls in the fountains. The big pepsi bus in the parking lot might have been a giveaway too.
We don't need no stinkin' red carpet - they had a pepsi blue carpet with the pepsi logo mixed in.
Once in the lobby, we were directed to 3 types of registration - hotel, spending money for incidentals ($100), and then the contest. Was assigned to the Pepsi One group headed by a very nice lady named Maggie. She was to be our Mother Duck. We were her ducklings for the rest of the weekend and she'd make sure we got where we were supposed to go, explained all the game details, and gave sage advice as to how to survive it. She gave us her cell phone number and if there were any problems, she'd take care of it.
If were wanted a bite to eat, there was a bbq to the right. Tubs of sodas, aquafina water, and soobee drinks plus lots of munchies (remember fritos, doritos and other chips are all pepsi products) to your left. Please help yourself. (this stuff was available all weekend long!) Talked with a lady from Santa Ana named Karen - she and her sister had driven in and had already gotten a check for the mileage.
Went up to the room and settled in. Then went down and explored the hotel - checked out the pool and the gym. Never did hit either though.
Welcome Dinner down in the ballroom at 6:30pm. Big buffet spread - two cooks who would cook up your choice of pasta in one corner; taco bar in another; seafood spread in the back (oysters! shrimp! - felt sort of like Bubba Gump - fried, boiled, battered - more shrimp!); sort of asian fusion stuff on the far wall; desserts out in the lobby; open bar - wine, beer and of course, all the pepsi stuff. *sigh*
Sat with two ladies from Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Faye and Natalie. Faye had won a local contest put on by a grocery store. Met Mary & Bob (actually Oddmund) from San Jose. (I think Ron had seen an article about them). Mary had entered Bob's name in SavMart's local contest.
Saturday morning I was awakened by the sound of weird clicks, static and buzzes. Turns out that I had set the alarm, but neglected to see if the radio was tuned into a station. It wasn't. *sigh*
Breakfast buffet - eggs, cottage potatoes, lots of cereal, BACON, sausage, fruits, lots of cereals, waffles with fresh strawberries and lots of hot syrup. It's sort of nice when you can look around at all the different tables and see people drinking all sorts of soda with breakfast. One lady had 4 cans in front of her. Oy, I was way behind.
Ended up sharing a table with Faye & Natalie and Alice & her husband (from North Carolina - she was the 2nd person eliminated in the game). Had a very nice chat. The 9am mandatory meeting went over how the game was to be played, how we were going to get our numbers from our cheat sheets into the almighty computer and the general plans for the weekend.
While we waited for our turns to enter our numbers - the emcee had an impromptu trivia contest/do something to win a prize contest. One of the questions was to sing the 1950's nickel & dime jingle. Won with panache by the retired lady from Oregon.
The best good luck charm was won by a woman whose charm was something of her son's (don't know what it was, I was off picking my numbers) - he had been killed in Iraq last month. *sigh*
A 13 year old boy won a Sammy Sosa signed baseball - all he had to do was dance in front of a room full of strangers. (contest had 4 people up there dancing to some 70's song) He not only danced, but after he won by the applause meter, but had to promise that he would be a good kid, obey his mom, etc etc etc and then had to go give his mom a hug in front of audience. Over dinner later that night, his mom told us that she was so proud of him. Happy she had gotten a hug too.
Alice and I were the only ones who had to redo our slips as we screwed up filling at the darn things. We both mumbled about it being early in the morning. Small print, not enough diet pepsi. *sigh* Talked with Pat (Patricia?) from Atlanta while we waited for our turn at the number machine.
We were given boxed lunches (sandwich, salad, fruit, chips, cookie, mint and something to drink) to eat on the bus. Everybody boarded one of the 4 buses - Dillon Beach party, City of Angels tour, Studio backlot tour or Santa Monica Pier & promenade. Karen & I had decided on the Santa Monica one - we had pretty much done all the other tours at some point in our life - probably more than once. Auntie Yo did get stuck with us in Los Angeles for a week most summers.
As I had forgotten my lipstick, I did end up buying the most expensive lipstick in my life at the Shiseido counter in May's dept store. The lady spoke to us in a japanese - oops. Could pretty much understand her, but couldn't really reply. We be sansei's ya know. She was all set to give us make overs, but it was too dang hot. *grin*. Wasn't sold on the color until she put some on me. Me like! Didn't even ask how much. OOps. $21 for a lipstick??? I usually spend $6 max?
Decided to catch the shuttle back to the hotel and relax for a bit. Maybe take a quick swim. K & I both ended up napping until 6pm or so.
Billionaire Event: aka another fabulous buffet dinner and casino night.
Shared a table with Christina & friend from Sacramento, a goth couple from back east, a couple from North Carolina and proud mother & her 13 year old son. Names & home towns have disappeared from my brain.
Everybody was given a 500 point chip to gamble with - roulette, craps, or black jack. K & I played roulette. Didn't win lots but had fun. The top 20 winners got a choice of prizes - ipods, play stations, another sammy sosa signed baseball, jason giambi baseball, jeff gordon signed stuff, robot vacuum cleaners and other stuff. The Pepsi Dub Bentley unfortunately was not one of the items nor was the Jeff Gordon pace car (both had been on display earlier). The top winner had managed to turn his 500 chip into 6K. Black jack was his game. The 2nd place winner also had over 6K and she had never gambled before (pastor's wife - shhhh!!!).