Riding with $1 million: the Prize Patrol makes a Statesville stop

Published: Apr. 30, 2013 at 8:18 PM EDT|Updated: May. 30, 2013 at 8:18 PM EDT
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STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - You've probably seen it on TV a million times and wondered if it was for real. On Tuesday a family in Statesville discovered the truth, and they are a million dollars richer after actually winning the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes prize.

WBTV got a rare, behind the scenes look at just how that prize is awarded.  The Prize Patrol met at Johnson's Greenhouse in Statesville, that's where they bought the roses that make up the presentation.

"It never gets old," said Dave Sayer.  He's the familiar face from television handing over big checks that range from $10,000 to $10 million to unsuspecting folks who answer the knock at the door.  "It's a thrill every time, I've done this for 30 some odd years now, so I've seen hundreds of winners, over 60 millionaires, it's a great experience, believe me."

Another familiar face making up the team is former WBTV photojournalist Terry Shiels, who is now the million dollar camera man.

"It's really exciting," Shiels told WBTV.  "It's exciting to see the reactions on the faces of the recipients when they win."

"Walking into the store with the tee shirt (Prize Patrol Official Deputy) on makes you an instant celebrity wherever you go."

From the florist the Prize Patrol rolled to a nearby Food Lion grocery store so Dave could buy the champagne.  Before it was presented it was "re branded" with a Prize Patrol label.

The next stop was in the neighborhood of the still unsuspecting million dollar winner.  The Prize Patrol doesn't actually know if the winner is home, so while everyone in the convoy waits, Dave checks it out in the plain white van, and returns in minutes with good news.

"Two cars there, looks like someone's home," Sayer says.

That plain white van now becomes the Prize Patrol van as the crew uses black duct tape to place the huge yellow sign on the side.

Then the moment arrives.  The van stops in front of the house.  Dave Sayer jumps out with the check, Danielle Lam follows with the roses and balloons.

Dave rings the doorbell, but nothing happens.  Then he knocks on the door and within a minute or so a very dazed Glenda Dancy steps outside.  Sayer confirms her name and then shows her the big check saying that she has just won $1 million.  Dancy lets out a deep breath, then turns her head towards the inside of her house and shouts out "did you hear that?"

Dancy was talking to here husband Archie.  Archie had a stroke a few weeks ago and is undergoing rehabilitation, in fact, Glenda was preparing to take him to rehab when the Prize Patrol came calling.

"I could take some trips, if he's okay," Glenda said, referring to Archie standing behind her. "But you know, you hear them stories where people win sweepstakes and they divide it up among the family and then they're broke in a few months.  I don't what I might do, but I'm going to use some wisdom."

Glenda Dancy is a former certified nursing assistant at Iredell Memorial Hospital, Archie is retired from his job as an engineer with Clark Equipment.

While the big cardboard check for $1 million isn't one Glenda can take to the bank, Sayer did giver her a real check for $25,000, with the promise of many more to come.  The Dancy's will have the option of taking the million over several years, or taking a lump sum.

According to Publishers Clearing House, the contests are a major component of the company's mailing and web sites, and draws consumer attention to the merchandise and magazine values offered by PCH.

Winners are selected at random, according to PCH.  The company says random drawing prizes are awarded to qualifying entrants by random computer selection.  Sayer told WBTV that this was his second trip awarding a major prize to a Statesville resident in the last few years.

Since 1967 the company has given away more than $240 million.