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No Whammies!

Winning $10,000 on a game show is a good cure for cold feet about buying a franchise.

As a contestant on the game show Press Your Luck, Steve Chaput won a trip to London, a trip to Rome and $10,000. He gave the London trip to his mother and took his future wife to the Italian capital. And the money? He didn't spend it on cars or jewels. Instead, Chaput, 41, saved it to invest in something he'd had his eye on for quite some time: his own business.

When he went on the game show in 1985, Chaput was the West Coast sales rep for an athletic footwear company. He'd been thinking about buying a franchise for a while-he'd even visited some franchising expos to see what was out there-but he had a good job and decided to stick with it.

Things changed. Chaput's territory and commissions were cut back. No longer wanting to work for someone else, Chaput decided to give franchising a try and chose Molly Maid.

Though the $10,000 didn't cover all his opening expenses, Chaput's winnings did pay for the franchise fee. The money also spared Chaput from having to take out a loan.

"I had a bit of a cushion from my former job," Chaput says. "But the money from the game show basically got me into Molly Maid. There's no way that $10,000 is sufficient to start a business, but it helped."

While the Press Your Luck prize helped open the doors to Chaput's Upland, California-based franchise, Chaput believes he would have gone into franchising even if he hadn't hit it big on that game show more than 15 years ago.

"I would certainly hope so," he says. "I would think I'd have come up with the money somehow, some way. [The $10,000] just made it easier."

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This article was originally published in the January 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No Whammies!.

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