"When I found out, my wife and I were so excited we started jumping on the bed," says Scott, one of the winners from the last round of Dinner with Barack. "We just celebrated. And I said, 'Oh my god, I have to go to the gym! I have to get a suit!' Later on they told me it was just going to be a casual meal, but I still had no idea what I was going to wear. I went to work that day and I had to ask a buddy to switch shifts with me and I just said, 'Hey, I need a favor,' and told him what for—he was so excited. Even the principal at my little girl's school said he was going to donate all the time now, because if it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody."
Scott, a former veterinary technician with the Army, is a firefighter and part-time emergency medic in East Point, Georgia. He has two kids, a dog, and a long list of reasons why he supports President Obama.
"Where do you even begin? The fact that he passed health care, that's huge. My brother-in-law is 25 and a grad student, and he gets to stay on his father's health insurance. That makes me so glad, because that was one of my problems in school—I lost focus on my schoolwork because I was worried about paying the bills. The President also stood up for tax breaks for public safety workers, to try and make sure we could all make a good living. He's making it easy and attainable for any of us to achieve our goals—those of us who really want to work hard but don't have the good fortune to be millionaires or put away thousands to save for retirement. My mom was on welfare, and his support for those programs has been huge.
"Mostly, I'm behind him because it takes a lot for someone to have a whole side rooting against you, just really rooting for you to fail. I'm not saying I know what that's like, but to overcome that, I think it says a lot about your character. But he's fighting for us—for the working class. I pride myself on being a hard worker, and I live check to check, and just to know that he's looking out for me—and for my family, or my neighbors—is incredibly powerful. I say anyone who's going to stand up and fight for me, I'm going to get their back and fight for them."
Sharing a meal with the President—and with his fellow winners—was a remarkable experience, says Scott.
"The whole weekend was great—everyone was so pleasant, and when I finally met my tablemates, we talked like we'd known each other for years. Everyone was still in disbelief. I think none of us grasped who was going to walk through those doors.
"All of the sudden, we're sitting there at the restaurant and we heard—you know what I'm talking about—that voice, and we all started making eye contact like, 'It's really about to happen, can you believe that?' Then he walked in and everybody jumped out of our seats. We were all so honored just to be there, to meet him and tell him thank you. And he was so engaging, so down-to-earth—it was awesome. I'm still so excited just thinking about it.
"They said he was going to be disarming, and he was—he had his sleeves rolled up, and he just walked over and shook my hand. I look at some of those pictures now and I know exactly what I was thinking—I didn't want to let go of that man's hand! But I finally got to tell him everything I wanted. My daughter wanted me to ask him a question for her, so I got to do that, and he talked a little bit about his family, which I like to hear because I'm a family guy too. The whole time, everything he said, you could just tell that he loves leading the country and he loves being there for the American people."
Scott says the most exciting part of the meal came from realizing what it meant to meet this president.
"Just when I saw him, that surprised me. It's not like I didn't believe it, but his presence is just so powerful—and it's not like he's just a president. He's the first black president, and he's had to go through so much. But he's just so calm and cool, and you know that's how we're going to get through these next couple years.
"One of the important things my mom used to tell me when I was younger was that she really believed we would have a black president. She would tell me, 'You can be anything, you can be the first black president.' I didn't believe her then—I didn't have her faith. She passed away before she could see Barack Obama get elected, but I really do believe she was there when I met him, and that she was so excited and proud of him and of me."
He has just one regret from his meal with the President:
"The most amazing part is when he offered everybody a fry—it was kind of like 'Oh my God, the President is offering me his fry.' And I didn't take it, because I said to myself, 'I'm not going to take a fry from the President of the United States!' But I should have."
Enter to win Dinner with Barack today and you could find yourself sharing a meal with the President.