Natomas state worker wins Starbucks coffee for life

Starla Link won a Starbucks contest that entitles her to one free beverage or food item every day for the next 30 years.
Starla Link won a Starbucks contest that entitles her to one free beverage or food item every day for the next 30 years. egarrison@sacbee.com

It’s Starla Link’s lucky day. She won a coffee lover’s dream: “Starbucks for life.”

More than a dozen Starbucks employees gathered at the store at 16th and P streets to cheer Thursday morning as district manager Tim Dubenko presented Link with flowers, balloons and a hammered 10-karat gold Starbucks card engraved with her name that entitles her to one free Starbucks beverage or food item a day for the next 30 years.

Link, 47, is one of 14 winners of the card worldwide as part of the company’s “It’s a Wonderful Card” promotion. Ten were awarded in the U.S., three in Canada and one in the U.K.

Link, who works for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, usually stops by the downtown Starbucks location twice a day for coffee or tea. She knows the baristas by name. Winners had to use a Starbucks Rewards card or mobile app to enter a code from the bottom of a store receipt.

“I’m happy that the Starbucks here, all the baristas, the 14 of them, are getting recognition, because I wouldn’t have won this without them,” she said. “I never get my receipt and they made me take my receipt.”

Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills said many customers have asked about winning the 30-year prize in the past, so it was a natural choice for a holiday promotion. Starbucks estimates the prize is worth about $54,000.

The promotion, which ran from Dec. 2 to Jan. 5, also offered 482,000 instant prizes such as free coffees or Cranberry Bliss bars to contest entrants. Customers could enter twice a day, provided they had a new receipt code.

Link, a North Natomas resident, entered the contest at least 12 times and won a cake pop in addition to the big prize. She said she gave the cake pop to her boss.

Link was not expecting to win anything else beyond the cake pop. Then she received an email from Starbucks on Dec. 30 congratulating her on the big prize.

“I didn’t believe it until the next day, and I had three missed calls from the Starbucks PR department,” she said. “And then I realized that, ‘OK, this is real.’ ”

Link doesn’t have any plans for her Starbucks prize aside from showing it to all her friends and family.

“Gosh, I don’t know,” she said, laughing. “I haven’t thought that far.”

Call The Bee’s Ellen Garrison at (916) 321-1006