Cowboys, Ferrari Make for Expensive Plates in Auction

Adam Richey hadn't really thought about getting a license plate reading RANGERS until seeing an ad about two weeks ago for an auction for 33 personalized plates.

The idea grew on the Dallas man, and the Texas Rangers season ticketholder was able to buy it for $10,000 at a Thursday night auction held at Cowboys Stadium.

The auction marked the first time Texans could get a personalized plate with a full seven-character personalization. The buyers earn the right to the words on the plates for 25 years -- a first in the state -- after which they can pay to renew that right.

"Hopefully, I can pass it along to my kids," Richey said.

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A custom Texas license plate bearing the word FERRARI drew the biggest bid at $15,000. The other big winners carried nods to sports teams. COWBOYS sold for $11,500 and GO HORNS went for $10,500.

Proceeds from the auction held by My Plates, an Austin-based company Texas has chosen to market and sell some specialty plates, will be shared by the state and the company, with the percentage of the split depending on the price of the plate. The state's cut of the auction plates ranged from 50 to 65 percent.

Kicking off the event, auctioneer Matt Blevins, clad in jeans, boots and a cowboy hat, told the crowd of several hundred, "We encourage you tonight to do this event big and do it Texas-style."

Darryl Roberts, 49, of Weatherford, snagged the GO HORNS plate, saying afterward, "My wife's going to shoot me."

He said he'd thought the tag would go for around $5,000, but he continued to bid when the price crept up. "My buddies kept egging me on," said Roberts, a lifelong fan of the University of Texas Longhorns.

Nina Vaca-Humrichouse, 39, of Dallas, got the COWBOYS plate. She said she would offer it to her husband, but if he doesn't take the plate, it will go on her BMW. "I love the Cowboys," she said.

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Kim Sue Lia Perkes said the randomly generated plates produced by the state went to seven characters two years ago, but those can't be personalized. The DMV and My Plates both offer specialty personalized plates, but those could be only be six characters until now. Also, the My Plates plates were good for only 10 years.

Last year, My Plates did introduce personalized plates with seven characters -- but the first letter had to be a "T."

My Plates spokeswoman Kim Miller Drummond said the 33 plates went for a total of about $140,000, with an estimated $78,000 going into the state's general revenue fund.

Texans have bought more than 34,000 plates from the company since it began selling them in 2009, generating $2.6 million for the state's general fund, she said.

Jerry Fain, 64, of Southlake, had been waiting for the chance to get a plate that would be a nod to his local high school's football team, the Dragons of Southlake Carroll High School.

"You can justify it for 25 years," said Fain, who bought DRAGONS for $7,750.

Fain, who bought MILLION for $1,500 for his wife, figures that if he ever needs to sell the DRAGONS plate, he can just head to the football stadium.

Not everyone was there to get a license plate. Teri Tarvin, 26, of Arlington, and some friends were among those who came to the free event to check out the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl next month. They stuck around to watch as bidders pushed the prices into the thousands.

"I can never imagine paying that much. But if you have it, I guess you can do it," Tarvin said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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