Folks, we’ve all dreamed about being a sweepstakes winner like the people we see on TV, and some of us have even entered our names once or twice. “I’ll never win,” many of us might have said, or, perhaps, “Nobody ever wins these things.”
But the truth is, people actually do win these sweepstakes. Just ask John Hall, the latest Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes winner.
April 15 seemed like any other ordinary Monday for Hall, a longtime Rochester resident and former town treasurer.
After a relatively uneventful rainy day just after 3:00 that afternoon, Hall sat inside his Snipatuit Road home talking to a friend on the phone when he thought he heard someone at the door. Unsure of the sound, he ignored it and went on talking. But minutes later he thought he heard someone knocking again, so he got up and looked out his front window to find a row of cars parked in front of his house.
Hall hung up the phone, looked around, and made his way out back to his garage to investigate. Wearing only socks on his feet, he stopped at the big barn door and called out to the strangers peering into the windows of his workshop, “Can I help you?”
Over hurries a sharp-dressed man – one arm outstretched to shake Hall’s hand and the other arm clutching a bouquet of white roses and what appears to be a white poster board. A man holding a TV camera rushes over.
Hall looks a little confused as he shakes the hand of the man who introduces himself as Howie Guja. But Hall interrupts him, saying, “Yeah, I know who you are.”
Yup, Hall had seen Guja’s face in photographs and videos, smiling as he handed gigantic checks and flowers to the unsuspecting prize winners standing outside their doors. Only Hall never expected to see the Prize Patroller’s face smiling at him outside his own door.
Little did Hall know, over an hour before, the members of the Publishers Clearing House (PCH) “Prize Patrol” were assembling in the parking lot of Blossoms, a florist in Mattapoisett. There, Guja ordered a dozen roses for the occasion while the cameraman prepared his equipment. People from inside the surrounding businesses watched from their windows as Guja taped an introduction to the surprise that was to come. “Is this for real?” one woman asked. “Yup, this is definitely real,” Guja told her.
The small caravan of cars made the 15-minute ride to Hall’s house, everyone hopeful that he would be home. If not, it wouldn’t be the first time, said Guja. There have been times when the Prize Patrol has had to wait hours for a winner to return home. There is no pre-Prize Patrol surveillance. It all happens by chance, and how it unfolds is always a surprise for everyone.
When no one answered to Guja’s attempts at the two front doors, the group quietly proceeded to the back of the house. There the group spotted two cars in the gravel driveway, a good sign, Guja remarked. But when no one answered after several minutes of knocking on several other doors, everyone began to wonder where Hall could be. It wasn’t until just after 3:30 that Hall found himself face to face with one of those gigantic checks with his name on it – written out for $50,000.
“Wow,” said Hall with a calmness that bordered on unenthused. Not an uncommon response, said Guja who has seen it all, from winners jumping and screaming in hysterics to patients on oxygen gasping for air.
Hall might have been cool, calm, and collected at first, but it wasn’t long before it started setting in.
“Alrighty!” he perked up.
Then Guja asked Hall the $50,000 question of the day: “What do you plan to do with all this money?”
His one-word reply: “Debt,” said a sensible Hall. And the $50,000 should take care of most of it, he said graciously. But, man, it would be nice if he could win that grand prize of $14,000 a week for life a few weeks later, he alluded.
Sure, the odds of winning the super prize are about 2.4 billion to 1. But, as Hall wisely pointed out, “If you don’t play, you won’t win.” And Hall plays every chance he gets.
“Every time I get one, I put it in the mail,” said Hall. He doesn’t spend his time on the PCH website entering to win: he just does replies whenever a chance comes in the mail. And he will continue to play, he said, because now he knows it pays off.
“Just believe,” said Hall. “Don’t not do it just because it’s like everything else.” Then, having successfully stifled the one or two tears that tried forming in his eyes, he said, “For all my complaints in life, this is pretty nice. That’s gonna make life a whole lot better.”