- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - The photo tags on Leigh Ann Hewes’ Facebook page started in early January.

A friend tagged Hewes in a selfie taken at gas station in Louisiana. Then, other Facebook friends began tagging Hewes in selfies shot while they were pumping gas - all with her smiling face in the background.

Hewes’ photo began showing up on gas pumps around the country with selfies from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Minnesota, Arizona and Tennessee showing up in her Facebook feed.

“It’s like this big funny thing - people are just posting pictures of their selfies with Leigh Ann,” Hewes said. “It’s just the craziest thing. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh my God, you look so pretty.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, Photoshop does wonders.’ . A little airbrushing never hurt anybody.”

So how did this Dothan woman’s image end up on gas pumps around the country?

Well, she shops at Winn Dixie and participates in the company’s fuel rewards program. When she buys $50 worth of groceries she gets 5 cents of savings on each gallon of gas she buys at participating stations, like Shell. Hewes also learned to increase her savings by shopping online at other participating outlets. Hewes was saving an average of 20 to 30 cents a gallon every time she pumped gas and swiped her rewards card.

In September 2015, Hewes filled out an email survey and submitted a picture to be considered for a Winn Dixie rewards card marketing campaign on gas pumps and billboards. She was one of six finalists chosen to appear in the campaign. She was flown to Houston, Texas, for a photo shoot with professional hair, makeup and wardrobe people taking care of her.

“I totally see how celebrities get a big head,” said Hewes, who teaches social work at Troy University.

Her photo appears along with a quote from her. While she’s not sure where all her image has been used (and she’s not actually seen herself on a billboard), the farthest away she got a Facebook tag was from a friend in Oregon.

“People are just posting pictures all over, and it’s just hilarious,” Hewes said. “It’s a little surreal.”

In Dothan, her photo is on gas pumps at Shell stations on U.S. 84 near Covenant United Methodist Church, at Brannon Stand Road and near Southeast Alabama Medical Center.

“It was a little embarrassing at first, but now it’s just funny and I’m just laughing,” Hewes said. “Every day I get a little prize.”


Information from: The Dothan Eagle, https://www.dothaneagle.com

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