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CALIFORNIA | HEARD ON THE BEAT

Shatner Named His Price, and Priceline.com Paid Off

April 08, 1999|JONATHAN GAW, e-commerce reporter

He knew it was going to be big, but $7.4 million big?

For his services providing radio voice-overs, appearing in newspaper advertisements and lending his celebrity to Priceline.com Inc., actor William Shatner was among the biggest winners when the Stamford, Conn.-based company issued its initial public offering last week.

The company, which invites visitors to its Web site to "name their price" for airplane tickets, hotel rooms, home financing and, in some areas, automobiles, saw its stock go from an offering price of $16 last week to close at $69 in its first day of trading on Nasdaq. On Wednesday, it closed at $74.50.

A year ago, Shatner agreed to be the celebrity endorser for Priceline in exchange for 100,000 shares of the company. Since its inception, according to regulatory filings, the company has spent more than $24 million on radio and newspaper advertising that prominently features Shatner, whose main claim to fame was portraying Capt. James T. Kirk in the "Star Trek" television series and movies.

Now those shares are worth about $7.4 million, all without Shatner appearing on TV.

Shatner, through his spokesperson, declined to comment on Priceline, his endorsements or whether he has exercised the options, which expire in 2003.

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