PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- With polls showing the economy to be Issue #1, Americans are especially glad to be receiving tax rebates from Uncle Sam this month. But for some lucky individuals there are "big checks" of $1,000 to $10,000 arriving from Publishers Clearing House as well. This week the company dispatched Prize Patrol deputies on a "Grand Tour" to deliver "big checks" to 101 surprised sweepstakes entrants across the USA. "Gas prices are going through the roof; so what better time is there for us to spread some prize money around," said Dave Sayer, the Prize Patrol chief who appears in the TV commercials, often toting a million dollars. "This week we're awarding a grand here, ten grand there. We're delivering thousands everywhere," he said. After receiving his prize, a grateful Robert Hall of Brainerd, MN, said, "I can sure use it. Any little extra money is very helpful!" "This $1,000 pays for a lot of gas!" exclaimed Alicia Sanchez of Immokalee, FL, who sometimes has to drive an hour to her job's headquarters in Naples. Ms. Sanchez was doubly surprised because her mother, who does not speak English, summoned her home from work under the impression that the Prize Patrol van was there to deliver a TV set and collect $200. Deputy Degen Marshall was able to straighten out the confusion and assure her that "the prizes at Publishers Clearing House are always free." With so much geography to cover in just a few days, the company mobilized 64 employees as "Prize Patrol deputies." Each prize arrived in the well-marked van that everyone wants to see in their driveway, with roses, balloons, champagne and -- of course -- "the big check" that causes recipients to scream, faint, cry, or all three. Earlier this month the deputies attended a "Boot Camp" where they learned how to coax camera-shy winners from the shadows and how to track down winners who are not at home. Much of the instruction came from Sayer who in his 27 years with the sweepstakes giant has learned a lot, especially since 1988 when Todd Sloane, now a senior VP, suggested that the lucky winners be notified with a videotaped visit rather than a phone call. The two founded the Prize Patrol which has been an icon of the company's TV commercials ever since. "The winners never know we're coming," says Sayer, "so the shocked reactions you see on TV are 100% real." Sometimes the Prize Patrol deputies are the surprised ones. Allison Pavone and Eric Nielsen were greeted not by a happy winner but an excited dog that promptly bit them -- mercifully not seriously enough to delay the next delivery. This week's winners are still eligible to win much bigger giveaways including a "$5,000 A Week For Life SuperPrize." Consumers can enter by responding to company mailings or by going online to its popular website, pch.com. Publishers Clearing House, a direct marketer of magazine subscriptions and merchandise, was founded in Port Washington, NY in 1953. Its name has become synonymous with the sweepstakes and prizes it has used since 1967 to draw attention to the "unbeatable" deals and values offered in its mailings. Nearly half of the Publishers Clearing House profits go to charitable causes ranging from social services to the environment.
SOURCE Publishers Clearing House