I’ve been a working man for over sixty years, including summer jobs, an Army tour, two decades with New York ad agencies and 36 years with Publishers Clearing House, “the house where dreams come true.” These last 36 have been the absolute best, not just because I’ve seen dreams come wondrously true for our sweepstakes winners but because PCH is a dream place to work.
When I joined in 1981, the PCH Sweepstakes was 14 years old – and the grand prize had just reached $250,000. The company’s founders, Harold and LuEsther Mertz, were still alive, and their benevolence and the family-like atmosphere was enveloping. The offices’ atrium design gave everyone a “window view” of gardens, water, geese, even newborn ducklings. Every week a bud vase of flowers was delivered to each employee’s desk. Every August the vegetable harvest was celebrated with “Corn Day” and an “all you can eat” picnic. Employees received turkeys for Thanksgiving and cash gifts at Christmastime. What fun it was, compared to the formality of Madison Avenue!
After a week on the job I was invited to a prize drawing after which the company president phoned the winners with the good news. Later the winners were brought to PCH for an award ceremony, then were “limo’ed” to the Plaza Hotel, Big Apple dinners and Broadway shows. Many winners appeared in commercials customized to the winners’ particular stories. If they wanted a house they got it. A new car? They got it. “A brighter future for our baby”? He or she got it.
In 1988 we stopped notifying the winners by phone and started surprising them at home — as you’ve seen countless times on TV. I have been privileged to lead the Prize Patrol to most of these presentations – and it’s been a thrill every single time. Some reactions have been funny, dramatic and “made for television” while others have been quiet and tender, surviving more in memory than on YouTube. I’m often asked which was my favorite “winning moment.” That’s like asking which is my favorite child or grandchild. Impossible. Each is special and unique.
Time has marched on at PCH, the business has changed and expanded, and grand prizes are now worth millions. But the benevolent spirit lives on and we still have tons of prize money to award. So keep the faith and enter the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes every chance you get. Who knows? You might be the winner who kicks off our next 50 years of making dreams come true.
PCH Prize Patrol Ambassador
P.S. Do you have any PCH memories you’d like to share? Comment below! We’d love to hear your stories!