LARGO — Lana Sandlin has been participating in the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes ever since she moved to the Largo area more than 40 years ago.
Despite enjoying the company’s magazines subscriptions and household products for decades, the retired longtime Honeywell employee never thought she’d win one of their famous cash prizes.
But on the morning of Aug. 31, Sandlin received a knock at her door from the PCH Prize Patrol’s Dave Sayer, and after being alerted by her husband, Danny, Sandlin stepped outside her front door and was handed a bouquet of roses, a bottle of champagne and one of the company’s signature “big checks” in the amount of $1 million, making her the company’s latest million-dollar winner.
“No! Never!” a stunned, teary-eyed Sandlin replied when asked if she ever expected to be receiving such a hefty check from the company, which was founded in 1953 as a multi-magazine subscription agency and has since evolved into an interactive media company offering a wide range of products, digital entertainment and services to customers. “I’ve lived here since 1978 and I’ve entered and entered and entered, first through the mail and now online, but I never thought I’d win. I just enjoy their products. Never in a million years did I think it would happen to me.”
Sandlin, who suffers from an immune deficiency and doesn’t leave the house much, said she planned to use the money to pay off some bills, including a motor home the couple purchased a couple of years ago to travel the country in, something they haven’t been able to do due to COVID-19.
“I don’t get out much,” she said, adding, “I even have my groceries delivered.”
“Well, we deliver, too!” Dave “the Prize Guy” Sayer replied.
Danny Sandlin, who retired two years ago after a 26-year career working for the city of Safety Harbor, said he knew his wife was a longtime Publishers Clearing House devotee, but he never expected her to win anything.
“I thought everybody stood a chance,” he said. “But I never thought it would happen to us.”
“You don’t think it will happen to you,” Lana Sandlin added. “But it just did.”
After posing for photos, phoning her daughter and trying to stop from shaking, Lana Sandlin headed inside with Sayer to fill out the paperwork detailing the payment schedule; she received a real check for $25,000 for her first installment.
According to Sayer, the act of doling out cash prizes to unsuspecting PCH sweepstakes participants never gets old.
“We do roughly 50 a year, but only 10 or so million-dollar-plus winners,” he said from the BloomTown Florist on West Bay Drive, which supplied the balloons and roses and served as a staging area for the latest check delivery. “I’ve been doing this for 45 years and I’ve seen every type of reaction, including fainting, crying, jumping up and down with joy. Many say they have been praying it would happen, and some say they knew it was going to happen today. It’s different every time, but it never gets old.”
When asked if she had a feeling she was going to wake up on a Monday morning in late August and end the day as a millionaire, Sandlin said no way.
“What a way to start the day,” she said, wiping away tears. “I didn’t even have my breakfast yet!”