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Obama to dine with donors who won campaign contest

President Barack Obama and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev eat burgers at a Virginia restaurant in 2010 Charles Dharapak

President Obama tonight pays off on his campaign fundraising sweepstakes by having dinner with four contributors at a local restaurant.

The contest was originally billed as "Dinner with Barack." There will be "four place settings," said the e-mail to supporters and "one could be yours."

A $5.00 contribution automatically made one eligible for the dinner contest, though in accordance with federal sweepstakes rules, anyone could enter without a purchase or contribution.

The winners announced by the Obama campaign include:

* A retired teacher from Brighton, Colorado

* An artist and retired professor from Corydon, Indiana

* A U.S. postal worker from Chandler, Arizona

* And an entrepreneur and small-business owner from Minneapolis

Each prize included round-trip airfare to Washington, D.C., hotel accommodations for one and dinner with Mr. Obama on a date determined by the Obama dampaign.

The prize was later expanded to become "Dinner with Barack and Joe." But Vice President Biden is unable to attend tonight's dinner. He had to lead a U.S. delegation to Saudi Arabia in response to the death of the Crown Prince. An aide said Biden would phone his congratulations and regrets to each of the winners

The contest was an effort by the Obama campaign to beef up contributions during its first 3 months of fundraising after Mr. Obama officially filed as a candidate for re-election on April 4th.

The contest helped the Obama campaign receive contributions from more than 475,000 supporters and raise $33.2 million during the April-June period.

It was sufficiently successful as a fundraising device that the Obama campaign ran another sweepstakes during the July-September fundraising period as well. Mr. Obama will have dinner with those winners at another time.

The Obama campaign estimates the approximate retail value of each dinner prize with the president at $1,075, which under IRS rules, is taxable.

The IRS says taxpayers must report "the fair market value of merchandise or products won as a prize or award, as taxable income."

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