UI students hail mini ‘Cash Cab’


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It was 7 degrees in Iowa City, and University of Iowa freshmen Cody Stites and Logan Ryser faced the possibility of getting kicked out of their cab.

One more strike, and they were done.

“What shoe company was Michael Jordan contracted to endorse?” asked Kathleen Kuhar, the marketing director for the Campus Activities Board.

Stites tentatively answered Nike. And with a slight pause, Kuhar smiled and handed them a raffle ticket. They could stay — for now.

Seated in a huge yellow Hummer, the two men were participants in the Activities Board Cash Cab, a promotion for the host of the real “Cash Cab,” Ben Bailey, who will come to the university on Feb. 18 as part of a Activities Board comedy performance.

Minutes before, Stites and Ryser had fought their way through several hopeful participants in front of Hillcrest and practically leapt in the vehicle.

“I love Cash Cab,” Stites said. “Ben Bailey’s my man.”

In the spirit of the Discovery Channel’s popular show, the Activities Board rented a yellow Hummer and drove around campus — adorned in advertisements for the student group and Bailey’s performance — enticing students to get out of the freezing cold and partake in the Iowa City Cash Cab.

But even with the cold, they struggled to find willing students.

“It’s difficult because I think people think we’re trying to kidnap them,” Kuhar said with a laugh after a failed attempt outside Van Allen.

On the real show, host Bailey picks up New Yorkers in need of a ride and asks general knowledge questions, which start off easy and get harder. As long as the contestants answer correctly, they can win money all the way to their destination. But get three questions wrong, and the ride’s over.

Activities Board film director Ariel Avila, who was in charge of organizing the Iowa City Cash Cab, said even though the event came together quickly, the Activities Board members have long talked about doing a something a little bigger than usual, involving more students participating.

“If we get this right, it’s going to be the start of something great for future years,” she said.

At a bus stop outside of Currier Hall, UI seniors Dustin Koth and Brad Volden stood beside other students staring miserably at steam from their own breath while waiting for the bus.

The two had made it to their destination, just four blocks from pickup, but as the car was pulling to a stop they struck out on the last question: What does CAB stand for?

And they weren’t the only ones who had trouble with that question.

“I felt kind of dumb, Koth said, looking back on the ride. “But I’m gonna blame it on being a little sick.”

The Activities Board will continue the cash cab today and will host an event tonight in which participants will have the chance to win prizes — such as an iPod touch, or gift cards from Java House, Shorts, or Chipotle — with the raffle tickets they won in the Cash Cab.

Activities Board members will use the footage filmed during the rides to compile a video of the day.

“Just like an episode of Cash Cab,” said Kelsey Dallas, the Activities Board public-relations director.

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