Lottery winner lives dream selling cars
Published: July 13, 2007 | 6449th good news item since 2003
All Fred Brown ever wanted to do was sell cars.
He didn’t realize that goal also would land him on a cable television show. But that’s what happened to Brown, now the general manager of Garnsey & Wheeler Ford of Greeley and Fort Morgan, who is the subject of an upcoming show on The Learning Channel.
The show, which will probably be aired in the coming months, is about lottery winners who have gone on to successful careers despite their lottery windfall. Brown won $6 million in the Colorado Lottery in 1993, shortly after he graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a business administration degree. Through persistence, he finally landed a job as a car salesman with Garnsey & Wheeler.
“Herrick (Garnsey) didn’t want to hire me at first. Car salesmen work on 100 percent commission, and since I had just won the lottery, he didn’t think I would have enough incentive to sell cars,” Brown said. But that was his goal dating back to his early learning days in his home state of Hawaii. “My mom once said I even tried to sell my Match Box cars on the street,” Brown said with a laugh.
Brown won the lottery in December 1993 and started his career with Garnsey & Wheeler in July of the following year after hounding Garnsey, then president and general manager of the longtime Greeley dealership, for a job.
A film crew with Beyond Productions of Bethesda, Md., was in Greeley earlier this month filming Brown and his family, which includes his wife, Barbara, and his children, Andrew, 12, and Alli, 9. The crew also visited the dealership in west Greeley.
Brown said he is not sure how he was chosen for the program, which he understands is a follow-up to a program TLC aired a few months back on lottery winners who squandered their winnings.
“I guess they are doing one showing the other side,” he said.
Brown said that he and his then-new wife were struggling to make ends meet when he won the lottery. She was working at two jobs and was about to lose one of them, so they were going over their finances. They had played the lottery regularly and decided the $100 a year they were spending on the lottery would remain part of their budget.
“That was our dream money,” he said. He also was heating his garage at the time with kerosene, and it was agreed that when the latest supply ran out, they wouldn’t buy any more.
“But she didn’t know when I ran out,” Brown said with a wry smile. “I went down to the Agland store on 16th Street, bought five gallons of kerosene, which cost $6, and had $4 left. So I bought three quick picks and one with the numbers we always played.” One of the quick picks was the $6 million winner.
That set the pair up for life, but Brown still wanted to sell cars. He finally got the job and worked hard at it, became general sales manager in March 2004 and was named general manager in October 2005, where he is in charge of the company’s 120 employees.
“I still have to make sure our salesmen make their commissions,” he said.