A: Traveling for most business people is a drag; but for me it’s a rewarding experience every single trip I take – and I’ll bet I’ve taken close to 500 over the last 31 years I’ve been with PCH. The best part is seeing the absolute shock on the winners’ faces. Yes, they may have been entering the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes for years, but they are not prepared to see the Prize Patrol “live” on their doorsteps with roses, balloons and a Big Check worth thousands, even millions of dollars. It’s a thrill for me to visit people all over the U. S., in their homes or workplaces, and be in their company for the “winning moment” that is not only exciting and dramatic but often life-changing.
While our company’s heritage is direct mail, nowadays more and more of our winners come from online sweepstakes entries. Our audience is broadening demographically. Just last week [2/29 and 3/1] we surprised two young male web surfers, one with a $1 Million prize, the other with a $10,000 prize which doubled because he was a Facebook PCH SuperFan.
Q: I imagine that people associate your face with BIG money prizes? Does this prevent you from walking up to random houses to ask for directions?
A: My face doesn’t generate any more notice than the average person’s. I need to be in my navy-blue Prize Patrol blazer or in an airport with my Prize Patrol suitcase for my televised identity to cause a stir. That may indicate that people in general don’t pay much attention to the faces around them – unless they are star-gazing in Hollywood. Yes, a lot of people tell me I look familiar and say “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” But they rarely make the connection between me and the Prize Patrol man they see on TV. If my identity is somehow exposed, excitement reigns; but overall I can live a mercifully normal existence without a hint of celebrity.
The only downside is when we go to friends for dinner; they open the door and say “Oh here are the Sayers,” and I can tell they are thinking “Gee, all he has for us is a crumby bottle of wine.”
Q: Funniest moment in your career?
A: Seeking an answer involving a superlative is like asking which of my children or grandchildren is my favorite. Impossible. But funny are the times when something doesn’t go as planned: like when we were held behind menacing gates trying to surprise a man in San Juan, or when we waited in a frigid cornfield till midnight to surprise a winner, then tripped over dead animal bones on the way up the steps. Professionally, the best “winning moments” are the ones that make great TV ads – with winners screaming, crying, collapsing – and mercifully getting up. Personally, the most meaningful are the ones which are clearly dramatic and, some would say, miraculous – like when the Big Check arrives in the nick of time to pay for uninsured surgery or avert imminent bankruptcy.
Check out Interview Part 2 to find out what goes on behind the scenes of preparing to surprise the winners!