"You Get A Car! You Get A Car! You Get A Car!"

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Oprah’s now infamous “Pontiac G6 Giveaway”, where all 276 members of her studio audience won a Pontiac G6. Greg Migliore of Autoblog took a look back at the event, and even managed to track down a few recipients of Oprah’s generosity to find out what happened to the cars.

One of the most interesting parts of the story focuses on the tax liability foisted upon studio guests. Even though the cars were “free”, some guests faced a 5 figure tax bill merely for winning the car.

“William Toebe attended the show with his wife, Jillaine, and he immediately thought of the tax implications, which stretched to $6,000 or more for some audience members. It was a tough reality for many in the audience that day, some of which had been selected based on their need for a new car.

“That responsible part of me stepped forward and wondered ‘where am I going to get the money to pay the taxes?'” he recalled. Two people meant two cars – and taxes to the tune of more than $12,000. The couple took the cars, then turned around and sold them immediately, paying the required taxes and using the rest to pay off bills.

From an automotive perspective, the G6 was supposed to herald a resurgent Pontiac, being followed by the Solstice, the G8 and eventually, an all-new G6 that was to be based on the same Alpha platform that underpinned the Cadillac ATS. Alas, it was not to be. A mere 5 years later, Pontiac was sent to the gallows as part of GM’s post-bankruptcy restructuring.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

More by Derek Kreindler

Join the conversation
4 of 172 comments
  • Formula m Formula m on Sep 12, 2014

    Mid to late 90's Pontiac's with a V6 and dual exhaust were one of the last mass car brands that you could identify just by the sound.

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Sep 13, 2014

    The whole "GM should cut Buick" "No Olds" is all a wash. By 2004, they were just trim pieces. No unique engines, bodyshells, even factories. Divisional rivalry killed the ones that got cut.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Sep 13, 2014

    I view the last Holden Monaro as a dreadful looking vehicle. It might have driven and performed acceptably, but it looks as if some one smacked it with a fugly stick. I really do feel sorry for the people who ended up with the tax bills. I would of thought if a lot of these people who won the G8 wouldn't have much money to start with. Maybe Oprah should of bought them a small econobox.

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Sep 13, 2014

    Why should this be "infamous"? How many cars have been given away on TV shows? It's been happening since the invention of TV, for cryin' out loud. No one's ever heard of that brand new thing called a "game show"? It's a pretty simple equation: if you can pay the taxes, then you paid around $6000 for a brand new car. How's that a bad deal? If you couldn't pay the taxes, then you didn't have to accept the car, or you could sell it, pay the taxes and come out pretty much even. It's only "infamous" if you want to take your Two Minutes Hate out on Oprah and GM.