LIHUE — Charlotte Rapozo was a weekly winner early this season in The Garden Island’s Football Fever campaign and had her picture in the island’s daily paper.
Excited neighbors told her mom, Frances Carreira, “Your daughter won.”
“She thought we won the trip to Vegas,” Rapozo said. “I had to tell her, ‘No, it’s just the $250. It’s not the trip to Vegas but I’m $250 richer. I can take you to dinner.”
On Monday, Rapozo had just brought her mom home from a visit to the doctor when her phone rang again. She recognized the number: It was from TGI, again.
She had a good feeling about the call.
“I said, ‘I bet I won,’” she said, smiling during an interview with TGI on Tuesday.
She was right. She did. Her name was drawn from thousands of entries in the season-long competition to receive the grand prize.
“I screamed. I was so loud. It’s an elderly home area,” she said. “Everyone could hear me.”
She turned to her mother with the good news.
“I said, ‘Mom, we’re going to Vegas.’”
“The idea was for me to win so I could take her,” Rapozo said. “She wanted to go for her last time. We are so exited. We can’t wait.”
For good reason.
Charlotte receives airfare for two to Vegas, four days lodging, three meals a day and $500 spending money. Their only expense is the flight to Oahu to catch the plane for Vegas.
“I can use my miles,” Rapozo said.
The Wailua Houselots resident enjoyed what some might call beginner’s luck, as this was her first season participating in TGI’s Football Fever.
Each week for 20 weeks, ballots were published in TGI Monday to Wednesday. People were welcome to select winners from 15 college and NFL games, which included factoring in the point spread.
Ballots were dropped off at Cost U Less in Kapaa or TGI’s Lihue office, or mailed to TGI. Those matching or beating the score of the winning panelist had their name included in the weekly drawing of a winning name to receive $250.
The panel included TGI’s Richard Stein, office manager, and Nick Celario, sports editor, and KONG Radio’s Ron Wiley and Marc Valentin. Celario emerged as this year’s winner.
This year’s sponsors included Poipu Bay Golf Course, MCS Grill in Hanapepe, Tahiti Nui in Hanalei, AirVentures, Kiahuna Golf Club, Puakea Golf Course, Cost U Less, Harvey’s Flooring and Garden Island Auto Sales.
Rapozo said she began playing Football Fever last year after reading in TGI that the new season was about to begin and encouraging people to participate.
“I always get the paper,” she said. “I like to keep up with what’s going on.”
She liked the idea of a weekly chance to win $250 and a grand prize of a Vegas trip at season’s end.
Each week, she filled out a ballot and most of the time, dropped it off during her Thursday lunch break at the entry box at Cost U Less.
As the season went on, she found she had more company and competition — much to the fault of her own enthusiasm.
“I’m getting everybody at work. They’re getting papers and they’re starting to play, too,” she said. “I said, ‘Hey, there’s not much more time left. You guys have to get in there.’”
Rapozo proudly notes she didn’t receive help making her weekly picks from her football crazy family, which includes nephew Philip Rapozo, coach of the Kapaa High School football team.
“We would talk about it, me and my mom. She always picks for California no matter what,” Charlotte said. “No matter what, she always picks the 49ers.”
Charlotte said she considers team records, who has the home-field advantage, how a particular team has been doing and whether they have any injuries, before making her choices.
“I just do it myself,” she said. “I’ll change somebody else’s mind, too.”
Football Fever magic runs in the family.
Charlotte’s son, Daniel, was a weekly winner earlier this season and took home $250.
“He’s a veteran so it came in handy,” his mom said. “ I didn’t do good that week. I think I had only six right, or seven right.”
Charlotte and her mom are planning their adventure to Las Vegas around Mother’s Day. Both enjoy playing the slots. And they’re feeling lucky, too.
“Two mothers on a trip to Vegas,” Charlotte said with a laugh. “We’ll have fun.”