Warner Robins car salesman competing on ‘Tonight Show’

wcrenshaw@macon.comApril 1, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- In his seven years at Five Star Ford, Elvis Randolph has done some tough sales but none like the one he is trying to make this week.

He is on a live webcast competing to sell “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon a truck.

Randolph appeared on the show Monday night, introducing himself along with the other salesmen in the “Fingers on a 4x4” contest.

“I have small hands, but I can still spin a basketball on my finger,” is how he described himself.

The contestants must keep at least one hand on the 2015 F-150 King Ranch, and the last one standing gets to sell Fallon the truck. They get breaks but otherwise must stand and can’t lean on the truck, and referees in striped shirts kept a close watch.

The contest is being held on the top deck of the USS Intrepid, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a museum in New York. The 10 contestants began at about 9:30 p.m. Monday night after the show was recorded.

Speaking by cellphone on Tuesday as he kept his hand on the truck, Randolph said he was doing fine, although his legs were tired and the night was tough.

“The temperature was 36, but it felt like it was 20,” he said.

Ordinarily in a such a contest, the winner would get the vehicle, but in this case the prize is the commission from selling the truck. It’s a lot of work for a sale, but the truck with all the options lists for about $60,000, so it should be a sweet payday if Randolph wins.

Regardless, he said, he is enjoying the experience, as strenuous as it may be.

“We got a free trip to New York, and it’s my first time here,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. I’m having a blast.”

Twitter hashtags were announced on the show for each contestant, and viewers were encouraged to interact. Randolph’s is #WarnerRobinsElvis.

Tasha Mooney, a co-worker, tweeted to Randolph, “Fame is pain,” and, “I’m not getting any work done bc I can’t stop watching you.”

She wasn’t alone. Five Star Ford General Manager Josh Thompson said everyone at the dealership had the stream going on their computers.

“Everyone is kind of glued to it,” he said.

The contestants get a five-minute break every hour and a 15-minute break every six hours. They also have snacks and drinks brought to them.

One contestant was disqualified when she didn’t return from her five-minute break on time, Randolph said. Another took his hand off the truck when he dropped his coffee, so there were eight left when Randolph spoke to The Telegraph late Tuesday morning, and there were still eight by early evening.

None of the contestants were resorting to trash talking or trying to encourage each other to give up. “Everybody has been awesome to each other,” Randolph said.

Sales often become time-consuming and challenging, he said, but this would by far be the most effort he has put into making a sale.

Last year he got one of Ford’s top sales certifications, held by only about 100 people nationwide. The certification is based on things such as product knowledge and customer surveys. From that he was selected for a pool of 33 potential candidates for the contest. After telephone interviews on Friday, he made the final list of contestants.

He is only 5 feet 7 inches tall, but in high school he played basketball, football and baseball.

Randolph said he feels good about his chances and expects he can hold out at least until Wednesday afternoon.

“I’ve always been competitive,” he said.

Thompson also liked Randolph’s chances.

“He’s young, and he works out,” Thompson said. “He’s mentally tough. I think he will hang in there.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

Watch Elvis Randolph's appearance on "The Tonight Show" Monday here:

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