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Oprah-mobiles finally arrive

Abby Pike, New Richmond, is interviewed by WCCO television Thursday morning after receiving the keys to her new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. She was one of 276 audience members at a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show last November where the cars and other prizes were given away.1 / 4
Mike and Abby Pike admire their new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle after receiving the keys at the Schmelz Countryside dealership.2 / 4
Abby Pike (right) and her grandmother, Glenda Sopha of Bayport, Minn., were all smiles when they picked up their 2012 Volkswagen Beetles at Schmelz Countryside Volkswagen in Maplewood on Thursday.3 / 4
The winners of the VW Betteles picked up their cars on Thursday.4 / 4

After waiting patiently for almost a year, four Twin Cities area women picked up their new 2012 Volkswagen Beetles at a Twin Cities dealership on Thursday.

It was the final piece of a $40,000 prize package each won at Oprah Winfrey's final ultimate "My Favorite Things" episode in November of 2010.

Among the 276 winners from across the nation were Abby Pike of New Richmond and her grandmother, Glenda Sopha of Bayport, Minn. A woman from Anoka, Minn. and another from Mahtomedi, Minn. were also among the winners.

The four of them were summoned to the Schmelz Countryside Volkswagen dealership in Maplewood, Minn. on Thursday to pick up their new vehicles. The Beetles were fresh off the production line and among the first in the world on the road.

Pike, along with her husband Mike, an art teacher at Hillside Elementary, admired the new family vehicle after given the keys.

"It doesn't seem real," Mike commented, "we've been talking about it for so long."

"It's pretty exciting," Abby added. "It's my first new car."

Pike and her grandmother ended up on the Oprah Winfrey show after Pike wrote in for tickets to the show. Pike said her grandmother is one of Winfrey's biggest fans, and she recalls watching Oprah at her grandmother's house on numerous occasions over the years.

"She's always been the ultimate fan," Pike said. "When I was a kid, when Grandma turned Oprah on ... shhhh, you had to be quiet."

Pike wanted to surprise her grandmother with tickets to one of Winfrey's shows in Chicago. But as the show's finale approached, Pike said she wondered if her grandmother would ever get to see the show live before it went off the air.

To her shock, Pike received a phone call from the Oprah show on a Friday asking if she and her grandmother could attend a taping the following Tuesday.

"I'd asked for tickets for her, but it turns out the person who nominates someone also got a ticket," Pike said.

She called her grandmother and revealed the big surprise.

"I said 'I hope you don't have plans for Tuesday,'" Pike said. It didn't take Sopha long to clear her calendar.

"I wouldn't have missed it," she said.

When the two local women arrived for the taping, they were told that the morning taping of the Oprah show had been the "My Favorite Things" show. That audience had left with a boatload of prizes.

Oprah arrived on the stage and started talking to the audience, apologizing that they had just barely missed out on the big show.

"They tricked us all into thinking we'd missed the whole thing," Pike said.

Then suddenly, a Christmas ornament dropped onto the stage and snow started falling all around the audience members. It was a sign that a "My Favorite Things" show was about to occur. It was the first time Winfrey had done a two-part prize show.

"It was a complete shock," Pike said.

The $22,000 VW Beetle was the main prize in the 21-prize package, but the audience members also received diamond earrings, an iPad, a jewelry box, cookware, a cashmere outfit, a Coach purse, gift certificates, boots and more.

Winfrey also paid the sales tax and licensing on the whole package, amounting to about $7,000.

"It's not costing us a penny," Pike said.

The winners were given a choice of the color for their VW Beetles. Pike chose silver while Sopha went with red.

The car winners knew it would be awhile before they would pick up their cars. Volkswagen set up a special website so that the Oprah fans could follow the progress on the manufacturing of their cars.

"It was kind of fun," Pike said. "And it made the wait a little bit more bearable."