Greg Chavez crowned the winner of ABC's 'American Inventor 2'
By Christopher Rocchio, 08/02/2007
Greg Chavez, who created the Guardian Angel automatic Christmas tree fire extinguisher kit, was revealed to be American Inventor's second-season champ during last night's finale of the ABC reality competition series.
The firefighter and father from Camarillo, CA was awarded American Inventor 2's $1,000,000 cash prize as the show's winner based on viewer votes cast after last week's penultimate episode.
"It's amazing... It's amazing," said Greg when he was revealed to be American Inventor 2's champ. "A year ago, I was sitting at the house and I was watching the show, and I said to my wife, 'I'm going to win next year.' She said, 'I know you are.'"
In addition to the cash prize and title of "American Inventor," Greg also received an offer from First Alert president and CEO Tom Russo to further develop the Guardian Angel.
"We have been providing life-safety devices for families for 50 years," Tom told Greg. "We would like to help you realize your dream of making Guardian Angel a household product... a product that could save many lives."
"I was hoping for First Alert," said Greg, which drew laughter from the live studio audience. "I can't believe it... I was in my garage for a lot of years, and now this. It's just great."
Tennessee realtor Elaine Cato, who created the Annette Convertible six-in-one bra, finished as American Inventor 2's runner-up, and she was congratulated by Norah Alberto, the senior style director for Maidenform, which makes women's undergarments. Norah invited Elaine to Maidenform's headquarters to help further develop the product because they're "impressed by her drive and commitment" and "love" that it gives women "that sexy, confident look."
"This experience will stay with me forever," said Elaine after it was revealed she had finished second to Greg. "Even though I didn't win, my life has been changed. I am still moving forward... Just to have my product developed to the level it is today... I feel like a winner."
Oklahoma teacher Ricky DeRennaux, who created HT Racers -- a toy which is also educational because children design, engineer and build its remote-controlled vehicles -- was American Inventor 2's third-place finisher. He was congratulated by Benjamin Dermer, the director of inventor relations for toy manufacturer Spin Master. Benjamin invited Ricky to the toy company's headquarters and offered to help further develop the product because the company feels it has the potential to be that "must have toy" for the holidays.
"I feel awesome. This has been the greatest experience," said Ricky before offering some advice to his children and students. "Don't give up, work hard, and you can do it."
Greg's American Inventor 2 victory marked the second time in two seasons that the show's winning product was a safety device. Janusz Liberkowski, a Polish immigrant and mechanical engineer, took home American Inventor'sfirst-season title last May with his Anecia Survival Capsule spherical safety seat, a new type of infant car seat that was inspired by the death of his young daughter Anecia after she was killed in car accident several years ago. According to Inventor executive producer Simon Cowell, Liberkowski's product is still undergoing additional development and testing.