Josette Minniti could hardly believe her eyes. When the Rye resident opened the door of her Purchase Street condo Monday evening, she was greeted by two representatives from the Publishers' Clearing House Prize Patrol team.
Minniti, like many others, has entered the contest many times, but could hardly believe she had actually won. "My hands are shaking," she said.
The Prize Patrol team presented Minniti with balloons, a bouquet of roses and a big check for $5,000. A really big check, just like the ones on television.
"I haven't said a word to anyone," Minniti said. "I'm speechless." Slowly it began to sink in, she had really won $5,000.
Minniti was also handed the real deal- a genuine check for her winnings. But Minniti said she just might take the spoof check in for a little fun at her credit union. "I'm going to take it in and try to deposit it," Minniti said. "Is it OK if I deposit this?" she said jokingly.
Right after making that deposit, Minniti said she would probably take some of her close friends for a round of drinks at the Tiki Bar.
Eve Fish and Andrew Zucker travel around the country as one of the Prize Patrol teams.
"It's real," said Fish. The Publishers' Clearing House Prize Patrol is part of popular culture, from the days when the late Ed McMahon served as the company's spokesperson until now with comedian Kristen Wiig frequently sending up the promotional team visits on Saturday Night Live.
They usually reserve their home visits for prizes of more than $10,000, but made the trip because of their local ties; Fish lives in nearby New Rochelle and Zucker in Port Washington.
Minniti won by entering one of the company's online games. "I play lotto too," she said gamely.
It was clear from her next question, Minniti has the heart of a wagerer, ready to catch lightning in a bottle.
"Has anyone ever won more than once?" asked Minniti. The Prize Patrol team only encouraged Minniti's repeat ambitions when they told her that it is indeed possible to win the sweepstakes again.
"I think the record is 13 times," said Fish. "We've had a man who has won 13 times."
"Absolutely," Zucker encouraged. "Keep playing."
Zucker said that Publishers' Clearing House gives away prizes every few minutes. "We have 210 prizes," he said. "As many as 50 teams are out around the country giving out prizes."
This stop was Rye, but who knows where they'll stop next.