'Beyond belief': Publishers Clearing House surprises Pocono man with winnings over FaceTime

·4 min read

A Monroe County man is $19,313 richer after a surprise visit from Publishers Clearing House on Thursday afternoon, even though he wasn't home to accept the giant check.

Brodheadsville resident Andrew Salmon was lucky enough to win the latest PCH sweepstakes, which offered a choice between a ski vacation package or an equivalent cash prize, though there was one issue: when Prize Patrol Ambassador Dave Sayer arrived at Salmon's home, he was at work in New Jersey.

Fortunately, Salmon's fiancée, Lisa Whesper, was able to get her beau on the phone to convey the great news. Of course, she had to let him know to brace himself for the good news before Sayer made the big announcement.

"Hi Andy! We've got the balloons, we've got the roses, and guess what? I'm from Publishers Clearing House. We know you enter our sweepstakes all the time, and you won a fabulous ski vacation or you can have its cash value of $19,313," Sayer said to Salmon over the phone, adding that the balloons might wilt a bit before he was able to get home, but there would be champagne to celebrate.

Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol Ambassador Dave Sayer surprises Lisa Whesper, whose fiancé Andrew Salmon won a $19,313 prize on Thursday.
Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol Ambassador Dave Sayer surprises Lisa Whesper, whose fiancé Andrew Salmon won a $19,313 prize on Thursday.

Though he had 30 days to decide between the ski package and the cash, Salmon knew right away that he would go for the money. As for how to spend it, Salmon said he will pay off some bills, set aside some cash for an annual vacation to Florida and a couple nice nights out, and perhaps add a little cash to his wedding fund.

"I feel wonderful, I'm shocked," Salmon said. "It's definitely the biggest prize I've won in my entire life, and I'm thrilled."

Whesper said that the prize could not have gone to anyone more deserving, as Salmon was a dedicated contestant who never gave up hope.

"I was shocked. I mean, it's just so nice to see that that actually really happens, because you see people entering all the time, and I'm always saying 'You know, your chances are pretty slim.' But he's always stayed so positive about entering, and making sure that he enters every day. It paid off, he showed me!" Whesper said, adding that she might just have to follow in her fiancé's footsteps and increase her entries.

"Beyond belief," Salmon, who has worked for the Public Works Department in Linden, New Jersey, for 34 years, said.

PCH, "a leading direct-to-consumer company offering a unique blend of curated multi-channel shopping and free-to-play, chance to win digital entertainment across a network of web and app-based entertainment properties," was founded by the Mertz family in 1953, and began distributing their legendary giant checks in-person as of 1989.

According to Sayer, this was a rather novel delivery. Though far more people are at home to accept their winnings due to COVID-19, Sayer noted that he had never seen someone surprised through FaceTime before.

Lisa Whesper poses with her fiancé Andrew Salmon (seen on the phone), who won a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes for $19,313 on Thursday, and Prize Patrol Ambassador Dave Sayer
Lisa Whesper poses with her fiancé Andrew Salmon (seen on the phone), who won a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes for $19,313 on Thursday, and Prize Patrol Ambassador Dave Sayer

"Usually, we knock on a door and someone comes to the door and they scream, and we present the check and flowers and everything," Sayer said. "This was a little different. This is the way it happens today — modern technology allowed us to award the prize to Andrew long-distance. He's two hours away, but he was very happy."

Salmon noted that he has entered PCH drawings just about every day for years, though this is the first time he won.

"I've been playing Publishers Clearing House probably about now, 11 years, 12 years?" Salmon said. "I do it every day, and I've been praying that I would hit anything. I used to joke that I'd be happy with $10, so this is beyond belief."

Sayer noted that while Salmon was free to keep the big check, attempting to cash it at the bank might not work — "they'll think someone's playing a joke on you," he said with a laugh.

Though he already won a sizable prize, Salmon said he will continue to enter the PCH sweepstakes — after all, someone has to win one of those big weekly prizes.

"Oh, absolutely — the big prize is still out there, $5,000 a week (for life). That'd be great. I'm getting close to retirement, and that would be the icing on the cake," Salmon said.

While many people may doubt their chances at winning such a prize, Salmon, Whesper and Sayer all pointed out that those magical moments really can happen — as long as you make sure to enter, of course.

"We like them to know that real people really win, and it could be you, but you have to be in it to win it," Sayer said.

This article originally appeared on Pocono Record: Publishers Clearing House awards $19,313 to Monroe County man