This woman won a car by kissing it for 50 hours — here’s what got her through it

In the cult-hit 1997 documentary, “Hands on a Hard Body,” the people who wanted to win a truck just had to touch it. Twenty years later, an event broadcast on Facebook Live this week went one step further: One woman won a car after kissing it for 50 hours.

The competition (and publicity stunt) called ‘”Kiss a Kia” was held by local radio station 96.7 KISS FM in Austin, Texas. Thousands tuned into the live stream on Facebook Live
which started with 20 contestants, narrowed down to 11 after the first 24 hours, and ended with a final seven people still kissing the car. DJs for the radio station drew names from the final contestants to choose a winner, and Dilini Jayasuria, 30, who works in a state laboratory, was the lucky one.

She didn’t meditate, she didn’t count sheep (or cars), she merely allowed herself to experience the highs and lows of getting through the marathon competition, knowing each would be temporary. “I had a couple of freak-out moments,” she said, adding that her husband said she could give up, but she refocused her mind. “You think you can’t do it, but then you tell yourself you can do it.”

She walked away with a 2017 Kia, which retails at $23,095, which would otherwise cost $462 per hour after taxes to earn in the same 50 hours. And that doesn’t include the gift taxes that must be paid on such a prize.

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Participants were allowed to move, cough, and make noise, but they have to keep both lips on the car. Some were seen listening to music on headphones to pass the time and one contestant was watching Netflix
 on his phone. Contestants got a 10-minute break each hour — so technically, they need to kiss the car for 50 minutes each hour for 50 hours.

The competition mirrors that which inspired the 1997 documentary “Hands on a Hard Body” and the Broadway musical based on it. In that instance, 24 contestants competed for a Nissan Hardbody truck in Longview, Texas.

This is certainly not the strangest or even the most exploitative contest people have participated in to win a prize. During the Great Depression, people would twirl around the dance floor until they dropped in dance marathons for money. What started as a fun competition ultimately was “often made into exhausting and exploitative spectacles that abused the financial desperation of the contestants,” according to the film archive at University of South Carolina. In one such dance marathon in 1930, a couple won $2,650 (or $37,600 adjusted for inflation in 2017) after dancing for 2,831 hours, 4 minutes and 30 seconds (nearly 118 days).

In this case, a KISS FM DJ hosting the live stream repeatedly assured viewers, “We aren’t here to exhaust these people,” and EMTs were standing by to help. “I don’t see anyone acting crazy or shaking and acting delirious; that happened to some earlier contestants,” another DJ said.

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Still, the cheerfulness of the radio host felt incongruous with the humbling competition behind him, as he predicted four people would stick it out until the end. “Everyone’s going to be famous by the end of this competition,” he said. “And don’t worry, all the kiss marks will be washed off before we give the car away.”

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