Shaler man wins $1 million from Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes

Jun. 30—Each time Lou Isabella of Shaler has entered the Publishers Clearing House contest during the past three years, he's said a silent prayer in hopes of winning.

Isabella believes his appeals to the Almighty were answered Wednesday when a three-member Prize Patrol team knocked on his door to present him with a check for $1 million.

Dave Sayer, who has presented more than 500 prizes to contest entrants during the past 30 years, joked that Isabella "broke the record" for the amount of time it takes to answer the door.

After knocking repeatedly, ringing the doorbell, spotting him through an open window and calling his phone, nearly 30 minutes passed before he responded. And that was only after a team member went to a back door window to get his attention.

When he finally opened the door, he had a simple explanation for the delay: "Sorry, I worked late last night and was sleeping."

"Don't worry Mr. Isabella, this isn't a dream. This is real," said Patrol member Bianca Quinnonez.

Isabella, who is single and works as a computer programmer, was clearly stunned when the team presented him with a giant display check, a bottle of champagne, balloons and a bouquet of roses.

"I really wasn't expecting this, this is great," Isabella said. "Please don't tell anyone."

Isabella said he isn't entirely sure what he will do with the money, but he already has some ideas.

"Maybe a downpayment on a yacht," he said.

In response to a question about whether there were any places he would like to travel he said: "The world."

Isabella will have the option of collecting a lump sum payment or arranging for annual payments. He received a $25,000 advance on his prize Wednesday "just so you know this is really happening," Sayer said.

"You can deposit it today and start spending the money," he told Isabella.

Isabella said the $1 million is the only the second prize he's won.

"I believe I won $10 one time," he said.

Prize Patrol member Howie Guja said the team has learned to be patient when delivering the prizes.

"We really like to see the reaction when people learn they've won," he said. "If they're not at home, we wait. If they are at work or someplace we know we can find them, we'll go there. If that doesn't work, we'll keep trying to reach them until we do."

When asked if he had any advice for people dreaming of winning a prize like his, Isabella didn't hesitate.

"Pray. And play," he said.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, or via Twitter .