It was billed as the biggest, most eye-popping of the inauguration hotel packages: the JW Marriott's $1 million "build-your-own-ball" offer. You get 300 rooms, four suites, $200,000 worth of food and drink, and a primo site overlooking the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route.
This morning, the Marriott is scheduled to announce that the buyer is a Virginia businessman who wants to bring to the inauguration disadvantaged people, terminally ill patients, wounded soldiers and others down on their luck.
Earl W. Stafford, 60, of Fairfax County, the founder of a Centreville technology company who grew up as one of 12 children of a Baptist minister, said he will provide his guests lodging, food and special access, as well as beauticians, gowns and tuxedos, if necessary.
Stafford has paid the $1 million, a spokesman said, and is prepared to spend $600,000 more for a breakfast, a luncheon and two balls at the hotel. Stafford said he hopes to recoup some of the $600,000 from other sponsors, yet to be recruited.
Stafford said his guests, yet to be chosen, will come from across the country. They can watch the parade from a heated tent atop the Marriott's terrace, with terrific views and every comfort available.
"We're not charging a dime," Stafford said.
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