Fremont woman is singing praises of band after winning trip to see Matchbox Twenty

By Allison Rushton/Tribune Staff

It all started with a phone call.

Lorri Sabata was caller nine in a "Win-it-before-you-can-buy-it" contest that 106.9 FM of Omaha was hosting, earning herself the new Matchbox Twenty CD, "More Than You Think You Are."

But it didn't end there.

By winning the CD, Sabata was automatically entered in a drawing for "An Intimate Evening With Matchbox Twenty." Sure enough, she won, and one week later, she and her husband, Todd, were on their way to New York to meet the band.

It was the ultimate prize for Sabata, who professed herself "a major Matchbox Twenty fan." She is a member of their fan club, owns all of their CDs and has seen them in concert twice.

"I've never, never won anything like this before," she said about the contest that was sponsored by the band's record company, Atlantic Records.

The Sabatas arrived in New York on Saturday evening, and though it rained all weekend, she didn't let it rain on her parade. She and her husband went shopping, saw the NBC studios, hung out at Time Square and visited Ground Zero, which she said "really wasn't what you thought it would be. It was just a big hole ... but you can definitely feel that something happened there."

Next it was on to SIR Studios to meet the band.

Nationwide, about 30 people and their guests won tickets to the event, which was to see Matchbox Twenty perform live while they recorded songs for a promotion for Yahoo.

Sabata said she was a little disappointed by the recording session because she was unable to bring her camera in the studio and she didn't get to speak with members of the band.

But they were only three feet from the stage, so close to Matchbox Twenty that she said her favorite band member, Rob Thomas, lead vocals and guitar, actually spit on her husband (accidentally) during one of the songs.

"Todd didn't tell me that till the next day," she said. "He said he didn't want me to be jealous."

Sabata had no reason to be. In less than 24 hours, she was standing next to Rob with his arm around her, posing for the camera.

The Sabatas were scheduled to leave the Big Apple Monday afternoon, but the flight was delayed due to bad weather and plane problems, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

They headed back into the city for another night, and that evening they went to the David Letterman Show, where Matchbox Twenty was performing as the musical guest.

The Sabatas were unable to get tickets to see the performance, but they waited outside, and when the band left the studio, Lorri and Todd were there.

She got photographs of all five band members, autographs from four of them and she managed to get her photo taken with Thomas.

Though it was a whirlwind weekend for the Sabatas, who finally made it home early Tuesday evening, she said it was an experience she'll never forget, especially her favorite moment.

"Meeting Rob," she said. "I got to hug him. It was a dream come true."