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 PCHTV.com.

Good luck!

Dave Sayer

Executive Director

PCH PRIZE PATROL

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


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Showing 18 Comments
Jeff Petree said...

I Know i can say Im Glad you guys did this even if your known to be the MAD MEN of PUBLISHER CLEARING HOUSE. It was a crazy idea and it worked out excellent.
Also IT Gives Me a chance to be one of the winners who’ll get to say,” I just won a million dollars in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes” – “You can to!!” On live tv. Nov 11th is almost here! 1989 / now 2009

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ELIZABETH JONES said...

I HAVE BEEN PART OF THE PCH CONSUMERS FOR A WHILE NOW.I ENJOY THIER PRODUCTS AND GAMES. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.
THANK YOU
ELIZABETH J.
BLADENSBURG, MD
20710

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AMBER said...

IM GLAD THIS HAS HAPPEND ,SO MANY LIVES ARE CHANGED BY THIS GREAT DEAL,I HAVE ENTERED PCH 6 YEARS IN A ROW STILL NO KNOCK AT THE DOOR BY THE PRIZE PATROL,BUT I GUESS IT WILL HAPPEN TO ME ONE DAY,THANK GUYS FOR THIS IDEA ITS AWSOME KEEP UP THE GOOD FUN

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carla b said...

it would be nice if the prize patrol knocked at my door, because i am taking care of my saint of a mother in her ill health and i would like to pay these medical bills, and give her the fortune that she never had in life, because she is so giving to others, in closing, i hope in any event, they go knocking on the door of the most unfortunate person, they deserve it, along side my mother, who in my eyes, is a winner4real!
your faithful daughter…

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LEROY GREEN said...

IT SEEM LIKE A IMPOSABLE DREAM TO ME BEEN TRYING FOR YEARS LG JUST NOT THE GUY TO WIN,THINK IAM GIVEING IT UP!

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Dallas Bryant said...

Its’ a lot of fun and excitement to play Games and enter for the Mega prize, or any prize that keeps’ me searching for the things’ I need to find out and at the same time getting a chance to win Millions of dollars’!
Thanks to PCH I have time to searchand win! YOU can to1

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Dallas Bryant said...

PCH.com is the best place to have fun Searching, playing games’ and getting excited about
getting a chance to win $1000,000.00, Just for doing what you do anyway! Go ahead
and sign up for PCH Lotto,
You could get RICH!$$$$$$$$$.

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Jens said...

Wow! 24 years ago Todd Sloane approached you with the idea to surprise people at their homes with their winning moment filmed.
Dave I am certain you are thrilled that you joined Todd in such a Brilliant venture.
I believe it is this awesome adventure that has added to make PCH a household name today! FANTASTIC!
GREAT JOB PRIZE PATROL!

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JUNE FAHNESTOCK said...

Im now 77 yrs old Have been trying for a lot of years to win I always hope I could win so I could go home to England just one more time before I pass away but I guess I”M not one of all those really lucky people that do who win——–OH WELL I GUESS THATS LIFE

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Steven Moore said...

Some questions:…..Could it help the post office USPS survive if the by mail were initiated again or is it just an email thing…? Thinking about elderly.

What happens to unclaimed Prizes?

Is there a way a fan can win twice? Example… ten thousand and then a month later or more One Million?

Is a winner barred from future Playing if they win really big?

If a fan cannot be located can it be assigned to a survivor of the fans choice ?

If fan wants to donate the prize but keep only 49% of it — can that be done.?

Does a call in help … Is eligibility removed when a fan cannot play?

Is there any rewards for referrals of advertisers– I have over a hundred? I am a Fan (Super) fan?

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    PCH Staff said...

    Hi Steven,

    Could it help the post office USPS survive if the by mail were initiated again or is it just an email thing…?
    - You can still receive your entries via postal mail by writing a note and sending it to Publishers Clearing House; 101 Winners Circle; Port Washington, NY 11050. Also, you can enter via phone by calling 1-800-645-9242 (choose Option #2–http://pch.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/249).

    What happens to unclaimed Prizes?
    - We try to locate the winners. If the winner cannot claim the prize because he/she is deceased, the award usually goes to a surviving spouse or family member. Any online instant win prize that is not timely claimed is returned to the pool (unless otherwise stated in the Official Rules), and becomes available to be won by another player. For more information about claiming instant win prizes, please see the Official Rules of the game you are playing.

    Is there a way a fan can win twice? Example… ten thousand and then a month later or more One Million?
    - Yes, a fan can win twice. Our winners are chosen completely at ranom from eligible entries received, so it is possible for someone to win more than once. Though this would be an EXTREMELY rare occurrence.

    Is a winner barred from future Playing if they win really big?
    - No, winners are never banned from entry after they win.

    If a fan cannot be located can it be assigned to a survivor of the fans choice ?
    - If the winner cannot be located, the Prize Patrol will use their resources to find the winner. In May 2012, Danielle Lam surprised this winner at work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gNtepM32M8. If the winner has passed away, it will likely go to a surviving spouse or family member.

    If fan wants to donate the prize but keep only 49% of it — can that be done.?
    - Once the winner receives their prize, they can spend it however they choose.

    Does a call in help … Is eligibility removed when a fan cannot play?
    - We offer many different ways for fans to participate. See the first answer for a couple of those ways. Unless otherwise indicated in the Official Rules, our Giveaways are open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Employees of Publishers Clearing House, its affiliates and its contest processors, their immediate families and Giveaway Supervisors are not eligible. Children under 18 are eligible to win, but their winnings will be held in a trust fund until their 18th birthday.

    Is there any rewards for referrals of advertisers– I have over a hundred? I am a Fan (Super) fan?
    - No. Winners are selected randomly. All Giveaways are conducted by Giveaway Supervisors and overseen by independent auditors. We have no idea, in advance, who the winners might be. It’s just as much of a surprise for us as it is for you!

    - Jussie W. at PCH

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Steven Moore said...

Todd Dave and Danielle, you are doing a wonderful Job and you will be missed. Good Luck in all your future plans. All three of you have set a great example and it has been an enjoyable participation when looking back on the whole thing. For the most part I also complement your judgement and persistence.

Steven Moore
Lake Havasu City AZ

1964-2013

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richard west said...

has anyone online ever won the bigger prizes????

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Christine said...

I love what PCH does to help so many people succeed in life,and most of all helping so many children who are sick,and in need.Bless them for giving back.

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Santibanez said...

Wow!! Thank you!! Now I know

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Ronald Smith said...

first off I must say I love playing the games you have come up with, now the prize patrol slot game. but there is one thing that bothers me along with other players I talk too. like 3 times last week of 1-23, thru 1-28, 2013. every time I was going for the prize of $25000.00 0r $25oo.00 the computer would pop up with technical difficaltys try again latter, there is no later because you cannot get that same game back. We know you must advertise but them comeing up when your playing is very bothersome. But keep up the good work and may I see you in march. a disabled vet,fireman, and po. retired. by way you have my addresse wrong on some sites, it,s 6398 you have 6308.

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Santibanez said...

Wow… Hope one day is me…! Winning would make my life easy!! But sure for everyone else! You guys came up with a grey idea but still so hard to believe!!

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alicia adame said...

it would be nice to win, but most of all I enjoy playing the games that are available to us. keep up this good work, so we can enjoy your games. thank you, thank you.

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