updated 10/15/2010 7:43:29 AM ET 2010-10-15T11:43:29

A New Jersey car dealer plans to keep his word after offering Florida pastor Terry Jones a new car if he promised to not burn a Quran.

Car dealer Brad Benson made the offer in one of his dealership's quirky radio ads, which focus more on current events than cars.

But he was surprised when a representative for Jones called to collect the 2011 Hyundai Accent, which retails for $14,200.

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"They said unless I was doing false advertising, they would like to arrange to pick up the car," Benson recalled.

At first he thought it was a hoax, so Benson asked Jones to send in a copy of his driver's license. He did.

Jones, of Gainesville, Fla., did not burn a Quran on Sept. 11 this year as he had planned, but told The Associated Press on Thursday that the offer of a car was not the reason, saying he learned about the offer a few weeks later.

He said he plans to donate the car to an organization that helps abused Muslim women.

"We are not trying to profit from this. We are not keeping the car for ourselves," Jones said by telephone from California, where he was taping television appearances.

The pastor will have to pick up the car at Brad Benson Mitsubishi Hyundai in South Brunswick so he can fill out paperwork. No date has been set for the handover.

Jones had threatened to burn the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Muslims revere the book as the word of God and view its destruction as sacrilege.

His plans drew opposition across the world. President Barack Obama appealed to him on television, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates called him personally.

Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, said carrying out the plan would have endangered American troops.

Video: Pastor cancels Quran burning (on this page)

Benson, a former New York Giants center, said he originally offered Jones use of a car for a year if he said promised never to burn a Quran.

"I just didn't think that was a good thing for our country right now," Benson said.

He's now giving Jones the car outright because he doesn't want to be connected to whatever the Florida pastor does with it.

"I don't want to be involved in the politics of that," Benson said.

Before he made his decision, Benson asked listeners to weigh in on whether he should honor his promise.

'Be a man'
More than 2,600 people responded by phone and e-mail, and the vast majority, Benson said, urged him to keep his word.

One caller suggested painting sayings from various religious books — the Quran, the Talmud, the King James Bible — on the car.

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"What you didn't say was what the car was going to look like when you gave it to him," the caller said.

Another caller told Benson to "be a man" and keep his promise. And some encouraged Benson to pick his own charity to get a car.

In 2003, Benson offered another newsmaker — Saddam Hussein — a new car if he fled Iraq. That commercial wasn't as successful, and Benson pulled the ad after two days, replacing it with one apologizing for any offense that was taken.

The Quran commercial was part of a regular "idiot award" segment Benson has singled out others for, including Lindsey Lohan, Mel Gibson and Roger Clemens.

"We don't have your typical car commercial," Benson said.

But they are memorable — and effective. Three years ago, he was selling 60 cars a month, he said.

Today, that number is between 500 and 600 — making him one of the state's most successful dealers.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Pastor cancels Quran burning

  1. Transcript of: Pastor cancels Quran burning

    CARL QUINTANILLA, co-host: Terry Jones , the pastor of a small church in Gainesville , Florida , planned to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 by burning copies of the Quran . On Thursday, after worldwide condemnation and appeals to stand down, Pastor Jones called it off. Pastor Terry Jones and his assistant pastor , Wayne Sapp , are here this morning. Gentlemen, it's good to see you. Good morning.

    Pastor TERRY JONES (Dove World Outreach Center): Thank you.

    QUINTANILLA: Lot of people wondering what you're doing in New York today.

    Pastor JONES: Yeah, we have come here with the hopes of speaking with the imam. We feel that we have somewhat of a common denominator in the fact that most people do not want the mosque near ground zero . And, of course, I assume all Muslims do not want us to burn the Quran .

    QUINTANILLA: So is there a meeting between you two?

    Pastor JONES: There is not. We have been trying to set up one.

    QUINTANILLA: Trying to set up meeting. There are voice mails exchanged. Is there -- what's the possibility...

    Pastor JONES: Yeah, we have -- we have a couple of people who are working on it who are mediating the situation.

    QUINTANILLA: But you came to New York in the hopes that a meeting would happen...

    Pastor JONES: Right, right.

    QUINTANILLA: ...not because a meeting's happen....

    Pastor JONES: No, there is no meeting. We just have that hope that one will take place.

    QUINTANILLA: The burning was scheduled to happen tonight...

    Pastor JONES: Right.

    QUINTANILLA: ...right around 6:00.

    Pastor JONES: Right.

    QUINTANILLA: Is it going to happen?

    Pastor JONES: We have decided to cancel the burning.


    Pastor JONES: Yeah, we feel -- we feel that whenever we started this out, one of our reasons was to show, to expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical. I believe that we have definitely accomplished that mission. Even though we have not burned one Quran , we have gotten over 100 death threats , we see what is going around in the whole world even if we do it. We feel a little bit -- if you're familiar with the story of Abraham , we feel a little bit like -- Abraham was also called to do something very crazy. I mean, God told him to go to the mountain and sacrifice his son. Of course, Abraham was much wiser than us. He told no one.

    Pastor JONES: Yeah. So he got to the mountain. He started to do it, and God told him to stop. So we feel -- we feel we have accomplished our goal. We were obedient. We feel that God is telling us to stop. And we also hope that with us making this first gesture, not burning the Quran ...


    Pastor JONES: say, 'No, we're not going to do it'...

    QUINTANILLA: Not today, not ever.

    Pastor JONES: Not today, not ever. We're not going to go back an do it. It is totally canceled. We hope that through that maybe that will open up a door

    to be able to talk to the imanabout -- yeah, about the ground zero mosque.

    QUINTANILLA: So there are -- you can guarantee us today that there will never be a burning of the Quran at your church.

    Pastor JONES: I can absolutely guarantee you that, yes.

    QUINTANILLA: Wayne , is this -- Pastor Jones talks about an element of Islam being radical. Are you now saying that the religion itself is not radical in and of itself?

    Associate Pastor WAYNE SAPP (Associate Pastor, Dove World Outreach Center): I believe there are some teachings that are carried on throughout the entire religion. They are as -- as there are in denominations in Christianity -- there are facets in Islam as well that push one element more than others. But that element is still alive and well throughout the entire religion.

    QUINTANILLA: We've been criticized in the media, perhaps fairly, that we gave you a microphone and made you basically an international name, well-known in this country certainly, and that that was publicity for your church, that you've been toying with us with these on-again, off-again pronouncements; 'Is he going to burn? Is he not going to burn?' Was it for publicity?

    Pastor JONES: Absolutely not. We were 100 convinced -- 100 percent convinced that this was a -- this was a type of a -- of a mission. We believe very much that there is Shariah law , that there is an element that is -- that is very, very radical. I am of the opinion it is much larger than our politicians and our news media would like for to us believe. And I believe that we have -- we have -- we have well, well proved that point by the reaction worldwide.

    QUINTANILLA: You arrived at La Guardia last night amid lots of security. The security around here this morning has gotten very intense. You've gotten 100 death threats , you've said. You're a reviled man and you're a wanted man in some places.

    Pastor JONES: Right.

    QUINTANILLA: How much of that is part of this decision? Did -- were you scared into it?

    Pastor JONES: No. No, no, we already -- we definitely did not realize that all of this would take place. Of course not. But we knew that if we went in this direction that our life could be threatened or would be threatened, we could possibly even get killed. I think the fact that we changed this decision -- we felt as though God was telling us to do this. I don't believe that has changed the death threats against us.


    Pastor JONES: I believe that we have already went too far to change that.

    QUINTANILLA: If this mosque is still built, which you clearly oppose, you still will not reverse your decision, you still will not burn the Quran ?

    Pastor JONES: We will definitely not burn the Quran , no.

    QUINTANILLA: Bottom line for the church, Wayne , is this going to create more members for your church or result in fewer members?

    Assoc. Pastor SAPP: Well, one of the things I'm hoping that this creates is that there are strong passions in religion, and people really need to get back to the text of the Bible, the text of the Quran . What do they -- what do they actually believe? What is in there? Or are they following an element that probably really God did not want us to follow?

    QUINTANILLA: Well, you made some news this morning, gentlemen. We appreciate your time coming in.


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