She needn't have worried. The deal was for real. Godiva had purchased the necklace—a gift from Aristotle Onassis to Jackie in the '60s—from a New York City jeweler who bought it at Sotheby's 1996 auction. The chocolatier had made it and its 34 carats of diamonds, 44 ruby beads and five fluted emerald beads a Valentine's Day promotional prize. Fisher heard about the contest, but the candy's steep cost gave her pause. Finally, she says, "I justified it by saying I can get it for my husband"—Donald, 44, an audiovisual technician—"to give to me on Valentine's Day."
By then, Fisher had opened the box, and the couple concluded that the bauble was not for keeping. "Our Oldsmobile is 10 years old," says Fisher, who grew up on a potato farm. "My husband drives a pickup. This is Mercedes-league." There was also a huge IRS tab to consider (the prize is considered income). With their modest lifestyle in mind, the Fishers decided to sell the necklace and use the proceeds to establish a college fund for kids Benjamin, 11, and Evelyn, 4, and set a little aside for a family trip to the Grand Canyon and a new deck on their two-story house.
Fisher has no regrets. She says she doesn't really like the necklace. In fact, when Godiva—along with TV news crews—arrived at her home on Feb. 26 to present it to her, she had to feign excitement. But the dozen or so boxes of candy the company also gave her were another matter. "When they brought in the chocolates," she says, "that was a genuine moment of joy."