How Did the Prize Patrol Get Started?

Just over twenty years ago, Todd Sloane, an assistant in the PCH advertising department, came to me and said, “I have an idea.”

“What is it?” I asked as I sat in my office minutes after we had conducted a drawing for a Million Dollar SuperPrize.

“Well,” he said, “you’re about to place a phone call to a guy in Texas to tell him he won a million dollars. Then maybe you’ll bring him to New York and film a TV commercial where he’ll sit woodenly in front of a camera and say something like ‘I just won a million dollars in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes – You can too.’ I think we could make more exciting TV advertising if we surprised him with the Big Check at his front door.”

The idea seemed a bit outrageous; but Todd volunteered to experiment with his amateur camcorder; so we flew to the winner’s home in Texas to give it a try.

Well, the winner John Yancy and his wife Julie gave us a surprise reaction that was, in a word, classic. They screamed, they jumped up and down, they held their heads in disbelief. And a TV commercial emerged from the shaky camera footage that set the course of Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes TV advertising ever since. Todd and I founded the PCH Prize Patrol to personally deliver roses, balloons and Big Checks – which since 1989 have numbered nearly a thousand! That’s a lot of miles – and over $221 million in prize money!

Naturally, we are happy with the popularity of the Prize Patrol, the excitement it has brought to our mailings and TV ads, and the joy it has brought to so many winners – far and wide – over the years.

Twenty years ago a person who wanted to win our contests had to enter the PCH Sweepstakes by mail. That’s no longer the case. While our mailed Bulletins are gratefully received in many households, more and more Americans are turning to the web to visit Publishers Clearing House.

Of course, you know that because you are reading our PCH Blog. And you probably want to win too! So let’s get started.

Just click here to enter the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes online. Have fun playing PCH’s online games. Watch the Prize Patrol in action at

Good luck!

Dave Sayer

Executive Director


(P.S.: By the way, Todd continued to come up with bright ideas at PCH and is now one of our top executives.)

30 thoughts on “How Did the Prize Patrol Get Started?”

  1. I can just imagine how many unforgettable Kodak moments you must have, you can see them a thousand times and still laugh as if it were the first time. that is beautiful to see surprise and happiness on a winners face which most likely brings the prize patrol joy. May PCH keep making dreams come true another twenty,thirty, or forty years.


  2. i would like to leave my children something they have been so good to church and some who have nothing. GOD have BLESS me with good health and with well being. i always wanted to do this if i win.

  3. doloreswashington says:

    I hope pch visits me in waxahachie texas

  4. terry wagner says:

    todd I love your story….. Look how far you’ve come. all the different games, contest, the benefits that people have gained and to think it all began in a room with ideas that just basically one person came up with and was passed on all over the world. look at the joy you’ve brought to people. you’re like the energizer bunny, and still going!
    God Bless.

  5. jessica says:

    One great idea can spark the world, and the results are shocking!

  6. Jacques Williams says:

    Wow! I love an original idea that has a good true story behind it. Jacques Williams

  7. Jefferica says:

    I’m greatful that PCH gives back and when I win I will do the same.The principles of God and Country is alive and well.

  8. Steve G. says:

    Todd you ask who I help my brother. He is down on his luck. Plus other family and some Vet’s and the ASPCA Steve G.

  9. Richard Claro says:

    It something how the PRIZE GOT STARTED.WELL IT HAS WORKED OUT REALLY WELL.I started with getting the prize patrol mailings in my mailbox.If I happen to win I will help alot of people.
    Thanks P.C.H.

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