Revisiting Publishers Clearing House’s First $10 Million Winner

The (Ten) Million Dollar smiles in the photo on the upper right belong to Barbara’s sons Michael (on the left) and Daniel (on the right).

Back in 1987 Publishers Clearing House awarded its first-ever $10 Million SuperPrize.  Because no PCH prize before then had approached such magnitude there was tremendous excitement among our employees and hopeful anticipation among millions of Americans who had sent in their sweepstakes entries.

I remember as if it was yesterday the day of the prize drawing and learning that the $10 Million winner lived in nearby New Jersey, not that far away from our Long Island, NY headquarters.  We decided that such big news should not be imparted with a phone call; so off we went across the Hudson River — with paperwork and a “first installment” check — to prove that we were “for real.” (This was about two years before we started the now-famous PCH Prize Patrol; so we didn’t have flowers, balloons, a big cardboard check or a video camera with us.)

It was dark when we arrived at the winner’s home – in a modest apartment complex just outside Newark, NJ.  We rang the doorbell and were greeted by a startled young man in his underwear – clearly not the winner “Barbara Armellino” we were looking to surprise.  He told us his name was John and then called Barbara, his wife, to the door where she was given the truly life-changing news. Pandemonium ensued – while their 8-month old baby Michael slept peacefully through it all.  Family members gathered for a celebration and prayers of thanks, and then we went to a nearby hotel for a hastily called press conference and TV appearance in New York City the next morning.

While Barbara and John both had decent jobs, money was tight.  Barbara recalls the first post-win luxury: sending laundry out to professionals rather than using the coin-fed washer-dryer in the complex’s dark basement.  Their lifestyle changed dramatically – with the move to a beautiful new home in the country, new cars, more leisure, and Son #2: Daniel. Importantly, financial security enabled Barbara to devote more time to home and family and more resources to her church and community service.

We have stayed in touch over the years, and it was a pleasure to re-connect recently and catch up.  Still young at heart and grateful for the blessings, Barbara and John have relocated to sunny Florida.  Their sons are now college-educated young men – with no outstanding college loans. John jokes that because the annual payments for the $10 Million prize will soon cease he is hoping the Prize Patrol will knock again, maybe with $5,000 a week for life.

If this sounds like a fairy tale come true, rest assured: it’s a true story.  And it could happen to you.  Barbara is a positive thinker and would encourage YOU to enter the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes every chance you get.  So, do it!

Dave Sayer
Prize Patrol Ambassador

Other blogs you may like:
Throwback Thursday: PCH Celebrates Over 75 Millionaires and Counting!
Do You Believe You Are Meant To Win?

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  1. Yes I am going to win a very big check from Publisher’s Clearing House and a TRUCK would be real nice too!!