Beechview man wins tricked-out truck

Sweepstakes pairs Steelers and Ford

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It has to be a scam, Anthony Phillips thought.

He wrote off the phone call as a prank, probably one of his co-workers in West Mifflin. After all, who wins a fully loaded Ford F-150 off Facebook -- let alone one decked out in Steelers black and gold?

But by Sunday, there was no denying it. Mr. Phillips, 37, a truck driver from Beechview, popped open the driver's side door and slid behind the wheel, the winner of what the ring of car executives around him gleefully called "the ultimate tailgating machine."

Anthony Phillips wins the Steelers-themed F-150 truck

Anthony Phillips was presented with the keys to a Steelers-themed F=150 truck, which he won by entering the online "Toughest Truck" sweepstakes. (Video by Nate Guidry; 1229/2013)

"It felt good," Mr. Phillips said afterward, accepting a handshake from Steelers mascot Steely McBeam. "I had a lot of people say, 'You didn't win!' "

He laughs. "When I bring it into work, then they'll know it's true."

The black, tricked-out Steelers-themed truck is a gift from Ford's network of local dealerships and is the second the dealerships have given away in two years. (Last year's was white.)

Plastered with the Steelers logo, it was parked outside Heinz Field on Art Rooney Avenue for several home games this season.

The truck may need a new protective coat to prevent rubbernecking. In the space of half an hour, dozens of folks stopped during their walk into the stadium to take pictures.

"Our trucks are -- I don't want to make this sound like a cliche -- they're Ford tough, just like the Steelers are Steelers tough," Ford marketing executive Bob Smythe said. "We're huge Steelers supporters."

He's not exaggerating. In 2011, Ford signed a deal with the football franchise to christen the F-150 as "Official Truck of the Pittsburgh Steelers." Thousands of fans entered the "Toughest Team, Toughest Truck" sweepstakes this year; Mr. Phillips signed up on a whim via his iPhone a few months ago.

He is now saddled not only with a new car but also the responsibility of caring for a rolling monument to Pittsburgh fandom.

The giant Steelers decals that cover both sides of the truck will stay, he said, but his old car will go on the auction block to pay taxes.

This was Mr. Phillips' first visit to a Steelers game since Heinz Field opened, but he's a devoted fan, dim playoff hopes notwithstanding. "If they make it in, they make it in," he said, shrugging.

Either way, he'll pick up the truck from a local dealership in the next few weeks. He's already promised rides to his brother and sister-in-law, who joined him Sunday.

But first, Ford must have its due. A Terrible Towel tucked in his back pocket, Mr. Phillips dutifully smiled and held up his new car keys for the ring of cameras surrounding him Sunday.

Tailgaters called congratulations across rainy parking lots. He is now their king, after all.

Andrew McGill: or 412-263-1497.

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