A RAW deal: 23-year-old wins big on wrestling show
Alana Ayres is only 23, but June 16, the Westmont resident and former Hinsdale South High School student made more money than many seasoned professionals make in a year.
Across the nation, fans of the TV show “Monday Night RAW” watched in anticipation as World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon phoned eight fans to give away a total of $1 million in his “Million Dollar Mania” giveaway.
Ayres, who had been entering the online contest daily for two weeks, was glued to the TV when she got a phone call an hour before the giveaway.
“I get this pre-call from ePrize, and they said ‘you are a qualified winner,’” Ayres said. “I was so shocked, I was crying.”
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She was told to stand by the phone to wait for a call from the McMahon, who was doling out the $1 million on live TV.
Right before calling Ayres, McMahon awarded a North Carolina resident a whopping $16, but her phone rang to the tune of $174,984.
“I was shocked out of my mind,” said Ayres, who was equally as stunned to be talking to the man she considers a role model and father figure. “He asked me who I thought the handsomest man in the WWE was, and I said ‘you are.’ He was laughing hysterically. I thought I was going to faint after I got off the phone.”
Ayres was not just sucking up to her new benefactor. While McMahon’s WWE persona is regarded by many as maniacal if not a shade evil, Ayres regards him as a hero, a man who grew up in a poor neighborhood, worked hard to succeed and now gives back through organizations like Make-A-Wish Foundation. During the holidays, Ayres wrote McMahon and his wife a fan letter, which she suspects could have had something to do with her name being chosen.
“I see him as a father figure,” she said. “My dad died when I was 16, so he’s become a huge inspiration to me.”
Ayres said she plans to use the money to pay for her last year of college — she is at Elmhurst Life Skills Academy — and to take her mom and four siblings on a vacation, possibly to Las Vegas.
“It’s a huge blessing for my family,” she said.