A New Jersey dealer gave away a car today as a reward to the Florida pastor who last month agreed to never burn the Koran.
Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., drew a firestorm of criticism last month for his Sept. 11 plans to burn the Islamic holy book.
Brad Benson, owner of Brad Benson Hyundai in Monmouth Junction, N.J., pledged in a radio ad to give the pastor free use of a new Hyundai for a year if Jones called off his plans to burn the Koran, and if Jones agreed to never burn one in the future.
Jones backed down, and Benson made good on his offer. Jones took delivery of the car, a 2011 Hyundai Accent, at the dealership today. He plans to donate it to a nearby battered women's shelter, Benson said.
In one of his dealership's trademark outlandish radio ads last month, Benson lampooned Jones.
“Reverend, you're the winner of this week's International Idiot award,” Benson said in the radio ad. “Your prize? Well, if you stop all this Koran burning nonsense – for good – and go back to handling snakes or whatever it is you do down there, I'll give you a brand new Hyundai to use for a whole year, you idiot.”
Benson said while the initial deal was to allow Jones use of the car for a year, he opted instead to give him the vehicle outright.
According to The Associated Press, Jones said the offer Benson made was not the reason he decided to cancel the Koran burning, and that he only heard about it a few weeks after Sept. 11.
"We thought if he wants to give a car, then why not take it and pass it on to another nonprofit organization," Jones told the AP.
The AP also reported Benson paid for the pastor to fly out to New Jersey so that Jones could fill out paperwork.
Security was tight on Friday at the dealership, AP said. Jones said he has received more than 100 death threats since he first said he would burn the Koran.
Benson's dealership is the highest-volume Hyundai store in the United States, selling about 450-500 new vehicles per month.
A former NFL all-pro offensive lineman, Benson played left tackle for the New York Giants from 1978 through the 1987 season.
As the Giants' left tackle, Benson helped protect Giants' quarterback Phil Simms when the team beat the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl XXI in 1986. Benson retired from the NFL after the 1987 season.