For years, the Hands On A Hardbody contest in Longview attracted Hollywood attention and contestants from around the world who were willing to go days without sleep for the chance to win a free truck.
However, that came to a tragic end in 2005, when one contestant left the contest, broke into a store to steal a gun, and shot himself.
Today, Patterson Nissan announced they have settled a lawsuit filed by that contestant's family. In a KLTV 7 exclusive tonight, our Bob Hallmark talked to the contest's organizers about that settlement, and what, if any, future the contest now has.
For years it was the strangely but wildly popular landmark event in Longview, Hands On A Hardbody brought hundreds of spectators out each year, and even got international press.
"It's amazing to see how they put their heart and soul into it to win," said Jan Maynard, the longtime event organizer.
But the 2005 event ended it, as contestant Richard Vega bolted from the contest and ran to a nearby K-mart where he got a gun.
On his way back, he was confronted by police, and shot himself.
"It was tough on myself, tough on the dealership because this is the third ownership to that had this contest," sayd Maynard. "Keep the Vega family in our prayers because there was a loss. It was a loss to alot of us. We had done it so long but we've passed that now and we have wonderful memories that will last a lifetime."
The 2007 lawsuit by the Vega family claimed that Vega became temporarily insane after standing for 48 hours with his hand on the truck. But while the suit is now over, it has grounded the contest, perhaps for good.
"The good memories about the contest will never go away....it will not be coming back," confirmed Maynard.
For Maynard, the settlement is closure and a chance to thank everyone who made the remarkable contest happen over the years.
"It was our heartfelt privilege to bring this contest to the folks. We just really want to express our thanks to everybody who had just a little piece of the Hands On A Hardbody contest."
Patterson Nissan has chosen not to release the amount of the settlement.
The Hands On A Hardbody contest will be featured in an upcoming BBC documentary dealing with the effects of sleep deprivation.