(July 12, 1929 – September 14, 2010) was an American entrepreneur and chairman of Winner International who created The Club, an anti-theft device that is attached and locked on to a car's steering wheel, making it more difficult for car thieves to steal the car.
By 1994, sales of the device had reached 14 million units.
Winner was born in July 1929 in Transfer, Pennsylvania, where he grew up on a dairy farm to a relatively poor family and attended a one-room schoolhouse, stating in an interview that when he would speak to a group he was "comfortable saying that no one in the room was raised poorer than me" when they were growing up.
He served in the United States Army in South Korea and attended Shenango Valley Business College.
The inspiration for the Club came after his Cadillac was stolen, and he remembered back to his time serving in the Army when the steering wheels of jeeps would be protected using chains. a mechanic who said he had worked on developing the product with Winner before the incident in which the Cadillac was stolen claimed that he had not been properly credited for the development of the device and that the two men had made a verbal agreement in 1985 under which they would split any profits from the sale of the Club.
Winner acknowledged that Johnson had been paid a fee to work on developing the device, but that the basic design, such as the pronged hooks that secure it to the steering wheel, were part of Winner's original design.
While similar locking devices had been invented decades earlier, The Club's success was credited to heavy television advertising featuring police officers talking about the Club with the slogan "If you can't steer it, you can't steal it" and distribution through major national retailers including Kmart, Sears and Wal-Mart.
Winner acknowledged that the Club could be defeated by breaking the lock or sawing through the steering wheel.
While improvements were made to the device, the Club could not defeat determined thieves but Winner noted that it offered the benefit of encouraging car thieves to avoid cars equipped with the Club and to avoid the time and effort needed to bypass the device.
By 1993, sales of the Club had reached 10 million units.
Winner would say that he had a love for sales and that "If it weren't the Club, it would have been something else".
In addition to such brand extensions of the original product including the Boat Club, the Truck Club and the Bike Club, another follow-up product was the "Door Club", a security device that debuted in the early 1990s for use in homes, which Winter forecast would outsell the car device as "there are more doors than cars".