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She “Lived In It” and Won

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Former Miss Calaveras and Bret Harte High School graduate Jessica Bowman won a new car after living in it for five days with five other people.

The “Live in it to win it” contest was sponsored by Modesto radio station B-93, KOSO, and was something of a cross between “Survivor” and “Fear Factor,” with contestants voting each other out of the vehicle one by one, and performing some odd, and occasionally gross, challenges.

The two men and three women entered the Scion at the Vintage Faire mall in Modesto at 6:30 a.m. Oct. 7 and Jessica was declared the winner at 2:15 p.m. last Saturday n decided by a vote on the Internet.

Scion is a new line manufactured under the auspices of Toyota, Jessica said, and is about the size of a PT Cruiser, only with a little more room in the back seat.

A 2000 graduate of Bret Harte High School, Jessica now attends California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, and applied for the contest over the Internet along with thousands of others.

The five final contestants had to spend 24 hours a day in the car, getting 7-minute bathroom breaks once every three hours, and climbing out for some of the challenges. Aside from that, they ate and slept in the car and, yes, it did get a little close.

“We kicked the boys out first, so the car smelled a little bit better,” Jessica laughed.

When one of the remaining women took her shoes off after wearing them for three days straight, it also was something of a challenge, Jessica said.

Each of the contestants was given a nickname and Jessica´s was “Homecoming Queen,” for her stint as high school royalty. Other contestants included “Kristy the Klown,” who has worked as a clown, and German aka “Big Poppa” from Valley Springs.

Then there were the challenges. While the station kept them well-fed for lunch and dinner, breakfast consisted of items out of the ordinary. “The first day we had to eat five live grasshoppers without water,” Jessica said.

Other challenges included eating hot chili peppers, and standing on a gallon paint can. That latter contest is the one that narrowed the field down to two n Jessica and Christine.

The three remaining contestants had to stand, barefoot, on a gallon can of paint, drinking a 16-ounce soda every 30 minutes.

The last one to need a bathroom break won that challenge. “I stayed on the bucket for 2 hours and 35 minutes,” Jessica said.

Radio listeners kept track of the event through live Web cameras through which they could check on contestants any time of day, and cast votes for the ultimate winner, boosting Jessica past “Kristy the Klown.”

Jessica is a former Murphys resident, the daughter of David and Terri Bowman, who took turns going to Modesto to cheer their daughter. Terri Bowman said she was initially surprised Jessica entered the contest, but then realized it was in character. “It´s totally Jessica to get involved in something like this,” Terri said. “She´s very competitive and she does what she want to do.”

Jessica believes she owes her victory to representing a wide cross-section of the population n being a college student and interested in activities such as wake boarding, skiing and traveling.

School was still in session during the contest, but Jessica didn´t miss out on too much, clearing up all her advance work before climbing in the car. “I wrote seven papers on Monday alone,” she said.

Jessica considers herself blessed because of all the support she received from friends, family, and strangers who stopped by to give her morale a boost.

And yes, the Modesto Scion dealership did clean up the car prior to delivering it to Jessica. “It smells great. It´s all detailed,” she said.

Because the contest was so popular, and the license plate frame advertises the “Live in it to win it” contest, Jessica is getting recognized as she drives around the Central Valley.

Everyone calls her “Homecoming Queen.”

Calaveras Enterprise story by Craig Koscho. For more Calaveras news, click: