First Charlotte Hornets owner’s Ukraine donation gets $1 million boost from ‘great friend’

George Shinn, the original owner of the Charlotte Hornets, auctioned off his 2009 Ford Shelby...
George Shinn, the original owner of the Charlotte Hornets, auctioned off his 2009 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 Super Snake last week and helped raise $1.7 million for the people of Ukraine. Cooke Media Group(Cooke Media Group)
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 8:48 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Megan Shinn woke up her husband, George, around 4 a.m. one day last week with something troubling on her mind. “I’ve been laying here thinking and praying about it.”

George Shinn, the original owner of the Charlotte Hornets, recalled his wife telling him. Shinn’s wife couldn’t stop thinking about Ukraine being invaded by Russian forces. She wanted to help, and the way to do that sat in the couple’s garage — one of Shinn’s cars.

“Honey, if you let me go back to sleep, first thing in the morning we’ll get right on it,” Shinn recalled saying. Shinn decided to auction off his 2009 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 Super Snake. Carroll Shelby, an iconic automotive designer and driver, signed the car before he died in 2012.

“He was quite a legend,” Shinn said. “This was one of the last cars he signed.”

Barrett-Jackson, a car auction company headquartered in Arizona, raised $1 million after auctioning off a similar GT500 Super Snake in 2020 and encouraged Shinn to do the same.

The auction got rolling once Shinn connected with friend and business partner, Rick Hendrick. Hendrick, owner of the Hendrick Motorsports, has raised $500,000 for Ukraine relief.

During the NASCAR Cup Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hendrick’s organization contributed $2,000 toward Ukraine relief for each lap led by the four-car Hendrick Motorsports stable — about $100,000 of a $300,000 total from the race.

In addition to the $300,000, employees contributed $200,000. “We still have people sending money,” Hendrick told The Charlotte Observer on Wednesday.

Hendrick connected Shinn with Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian aid organization that received Hendrick’s donations, and the Ford hit the auction block in Palm Beach, Florida on Friday.

But Hendrick was helpful in more ways than finding the right donation destination. Shinn asked Hendrick to attend because he’s well-known in the motorsports world. As the auction started and the price skyrocketed to $1 million, Shinn said he “lost it.”

“I was crying and I couldn’t get over it,” he said.

After Shinn figured out who the buyer was, the tears kept rolling. The car’s new owner was his friend, Hendrick.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Shinn said. “Rick is an incredible guy and I’m so glad he came because it would not have reached that number if it wasn’t for him.”

Hendrick said he bought the car for the cause, and he knew it would mean a lot to Shinn.

“George is a great friend, and he’ll probably end up with the car back,” Hendrick said. Although Shinn won’t be getting the car back for free, the two plan to work something out. “It’ll be very reasonable,” he said. “George has a fondness for it.”

With some additional donations, including $100,000 from Shinn, the auction raised about $1.7 million for Ukraine. Shinn spoke to Edward Graham, vice president of operations for Samaritan’s Purse, following the auction and learned that the organization recently ordered $1.3 worth of food for the Ukrainian people.

“The timing couldn’t have been any better,” Shinn said. “I just feel blessed to be able to do something like this.”

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