Thanks to the dauntless efforts of a small band of beef-loving volunteers in South Dakota, lucky Wheel of Fortune contestants this winter may be heading home with the means to purchase $1,000 each in T-Bones, Sirloins and burgers.
Beginning January 9, $1,000 in Beef Bucks—pre-paid checks and or VISA® debit card for purchasing beef at restaurants or grocery stores—will appear as one of the gift tags on the colorful carnival wheel that contestants spin for prizes during the popular nationally syndicated program. Landing a spot for Beef Bucks on the well-known Wheel of Fortune was an effort in tenacity and dedication for the people who direct Beef Bucks, Inc., the non-profit South Dakota-based organization whose primary purpose is to promote beef and educate consumers on beef nutrition and cooking.
“We were pretty excited when we received the call in August from the people at Wheel of Fortune,” said Bob Montross, beef producer, farmer and one of the eight Beef Bucks, Inc. directors. “They told us that our Beef Bucks had been selected as one of the gift tags contestants can win. We knew then that we had made the big time.”
Bob said the effort to get Beef Bucks accepted as one of the gift tags began almost two years ago as he watched an episode of the longest-running syndicated game show in U.S. television history. “I thought, ‘If we could get Beef Bucks as a prize on Wheel of Fortune, we could be promoting beef to millions across the country’,” recalls Bob. Several persuasive phone calls and e-mails later, Bob was supplying the Wheel of Fortune producers with both the official Beef Bucks logo to be placed on the large wheel and a commitment to provide $1,000 worth of the beef-buying currency for any contestant who lands on the Beef Bucks tag on up to three separate shows.
Getting Beef Bucks on Wheel of Fortune is certainly a coup for this organization that began in 1997 in the small South Dakota town of De Smet. However, those who know the people involved with Beef Bucks, including Bob and his wife Nancy, are not surprised. “Bob and Nancy Montross are the ‘Ambassadors of Beef’,” said Tom Daschle, former U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader from South Dakota. “No one anywhere has ever done a better job of promoting beef. I am thrilled, but certainly not surprised, that Wheel of Fortune is now part of their efforts. I fully expect that some President, some day, will include Beef Bucks in their ‘State of the Union’ message, too.”
Senator Daschle said he has personally experienced Bob and Nancy’s dedicated efforts to promote the beef industry in many ways, “including attending events on their South Dakota farm, listening to them speak passionately about the industry they love, receiving telephone calls from early morning to late at night, and, of course, using Beef Bucks myself!” While serving as Senator, Daschle also submitted recipes that are included in two Beef Bucks Recipe Collections.
To date, Beef Bucks, Inc. has sold more than $1 million worth of its beef-only checks and reloadable VISA debit cards which are backed by two financial institutions. The Beef Bucks have been used, said Nancy, in more than 40 states. The organization also has a web site (http://www.beefbucks.org), a blog, a dedicated phone number (1-888-640 MEAT), and a continuing desire to sell the product they love to raise. “We wanted to have a convenient and fun method of purchasing beef at the retail level and something that could be given easily as gifts,” she explains. “Beef Bucks have done just that.”
And now, the idea that began among fellow beef producers and beef industry people in cowboy country will be broadcast across the country—and beyond. Bob says they’ve been told that the first show to be aired in January has already been taped, but they’ll have to wait until January 9 to see if any lucky player gets to take home the $1,000 in Beef Bucks during that first program. “We’re hoping,” says Bob. “We’ll just have to wait like everyone else to find out.”