A couple of weekends ago Anita Douglas noticed The Times on her kitchen table was open to an ad for a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Sweepstakes.
She turned to her 11-year-old son and said, "Wow! Free car. We could use one."
And on Friday, she was doing something she never imagined: picking up her free 2013 Chevy Malibu.
"This couldn't have come at a better time for us," Douglas said Friday as the Northwest Indiana Chevrolet Dealers gathered at The Times Media Co.'s main offices in Munster to hand over the keys to Douglas, accompanied by her husband, Chris.
With their daughter almost of driving age and leases running out on the family's other cars, the timing was perfect, Douglas said.
Her entry was selected from among more than 15,000 submitted by Times readers and others across the region, said Times Advertising Director Lisa Daugherty.
The contest, now in its fifth year, continues to generate high interest among Times readers and in Northwest Indiana Chevrolet dealers' showrooms across the region, she said.
"Who doesn't want to win a new car?" Daugherty asked. "And it's a no-strings attached car."
This year's no-strings attached car was a black Malibu LS, which Douglas went to see at Smith Chevrolet in Hammond just after she got the call she had won.
On Friday, she and Chris had another up-close look at the car in The Times printing warehouse as they received the keys.
She got behind the wheel and said the car was definitely going to be all hers, but she said it was also doubling as a birthday gift of sorts for Chris.
“I told him that's your birthday present because you don't have to pay for it,” she said.
The Malibu was chosen for the 2013 sweepstakes in part because of its all-new design, said Smith Chevrolet sales manager Larry Hill.
"It is a head-turner," Hill said. "It's a dramatic change. They've really taken it to the next level."
Participating Chevrolet dealers this year were Arnell Chevrolet, Burns Harbor; Christenson Chevrolet, Highland; Harbor Chevrolet, Michigan City; Smith Chevrolet, Hammond and Lowell; Mike Anderson Chevrolet, Merrillville; Team Chevrolet, Valparaiso; and Wiers Chevrolet, DeMotte.
This year's sweepstakes also has an added bonus, with eight pairs of Blackhawks regular season tickets going to eight lucky winners.