“Forever” Prize Winner Ora Gayton Looks Back (and Ahead!) on Her Big Win!

Can you imagine winning a huge prize and then being able to call someone you know and say, “hey… you won this too!” That’s basically what happens to our incredible $5,000.00 A Week For Life “Forever” Prize winner! Not only do they receive $5,000.00 a week for their life, but then after that, a beneficiary will also receive $5,000.00 a week for their life as well! It’s an amazing prize, and some call it “the gift that keeps on giving!”

We’ve had several “Forever” Prize winners over the last few years, but one really stood out. That’d be Mrs. Ora Gayton, of Chicago, IL!

When I visited Ora for a follow-up interview, things had changed dramatically. But before we get into how much things have changed, let’s look at just how it all happened. Here’s her winning moment!

I flew into Chicago to chat with Ora and her daughter Charlene for our live show Inside PCH.  That’s our weekly live chat show that you can watch every Monday at 2pm EST on our Facebook fan page!

Ora was now residing in a beautiful high-rise condo overlooking Lake Michigan. Her spacious living area was a welcomed change for her, and she was definitely making the most of it.

Tastefully decorated with antiques (not to mention a gigantic television set in one corner), Ora was living the life she always dreamed of, a far cry from her humble beginnings.

“I love antiques! These are antiques, the bottles are antiques. I try not to buy a lot, I just go to the shows and see what’s there. I used to buy small antiques all the time.”  She gestured around the room and the antiques, and then continued. “I look at this place. It’s so gorgeous, I don’t want to stuff it with too much stuff. I want you to see the place first!”

I asked Ora where her life began. She told me she grew up in Dumas, Arkansas. She attended school in Helena, AR. But it wasn’t the sort of life she wanted forever. “My house was a shack! It was tin on the top, and when it rained, everyone knew it was raining. But what are you going to do? You make life with what you got. I had three sisters and four brothers. My father raised us on his own. I didn’t have a lot growing up. But yes, we did work hard for what we had. A new cotton dress was a big deal!”

Ora decided to make a big change, and when she was old enough, she moved to Chicago. “Oh, I was about 17 or 18 when I left. I came [to Chicago] and started attending night school. Cosmetology.” She started working in beauty salons, and eventually saved up enough to open her own. Her daughter Charlene beamed as her mother described this, as their family’s salon became hugely successful. As the salon grew, so did Ora’s family. “I’ve got 3 kids, two boys and a girl. And three grandkids.”  Some of the family lives in Chicago and some live in Nashville, TN.

Ora dreamed big, and knew that hard work was the best way to make dreams come true. But she also knew it took a little bit of luck, which might explain her long history with Publishers Clearing House. An avid entrant for years, Ora and Charlene said they never missed an opportunity to make sure they were in the running for a SuperPrize drawing. “I read in the paper that I was entering for 38 years. But I wasn’t keeping time on it!”

But then, as fate would have it, at 93 years old, Ora became a Publishers Clearing House “Forever” Prize winner! We asked her what the first thing was she spent money on:

“Nothing! When you win, you don’t just go to the store and just start spending money!”

I teased her a bit about the antiques, though, but she smiled and kept her stance:

“I was happy about it. I was really happy about it! But I wasn’t going to spend anything right away.” She designated one of her grown grandchildren, a local school principle, as her beneficiary. I asked her how she felt about that, and she said simply, “I hope they enjoy it!”

She said that most of the people in her new building are very nice, and I wondered if they ever pester her for advice.  “Everyone wants to know how I did it, and I just say ‘keep on keepin’ on!  But I tell my friends and family to enter and see what they could do with it. They say they’re doing it. But they say, ‘I can’t do what you did,’ but I don’t know how I did it in the first place! You just got to hang in there.”

I asked her if there was anything from the experience she kept as a memento. “I kept the flowers until they wouldn’t stay with me anymore. Charlene said she wanted to put them in a book and press them, but I don’t know what happened with all of that.”

But mostly, Ora has stayed pretty mellow since she won: “No parties when I won, I just stayed home. I’m not sure about going on a vacation. People say, ‘Hey girl, why aren’t you on an island or something,’ and I say, This here apartment is MY island!”

She gave this advice to others looking for their own “Forever Prize” winner moment: “Believe anything is possible!”

It’s true, isn’t it? Anyone, even someone with humble beginnings like Ora, could be our next “Forever” Prize winner! So don’t just wish that it’ll happen … make sure you’ve got your entry at PCH.com in so that you have a real chance!

Matt K.
PCH Creative

P.S. What about your own life? What’s a humble beginning moment that might surprise people? Tell us in the comments below!

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.