Jack Quinn, from the PCH Prize Patrol, Trying To Tell a Farmer (Looking for a needle – in a haystack) That He’s Won the Sweepstakes!
Travel Log for Sean Brennan & Jack Quinn
Part of the PCH Prize Patrol
May 13 – 15, 2008
A documentary on the DVD of the
is entitled, “Minnesota Nice” and you quickly find out why as you meet people
throughout the state. From a waitress at T.G.I. Friday’s in the airport in
Minnesota is known as the Land
Of 10,000 Lakes (perhaps you’ve heard of the butter
by a similar name) and it’s amazing how many lakes you see across the state as
you drive from north to south and east to west as we did. Just as there are (actually over) 10,000
On Tuesday we arrived at the Moose Lake Florists in Moose Lake, Minnesota to pick up the flowers we had ordered and to have our Publishers Clearing House balloons blown up. Jack had told the owner that we were coming from Publishers Clearing House in New York to pick up the flowers on Tuesday but he had a feeling she didn’t believe him.
When we pulled up in the Prize Patrol van and walked in her shop with our jackets on and smiles firmly in place, she was shocked. She had prepared the flowers just in case, but said that she still didn’t believe it until she saw the whites of our eyes. The florist shops we used doubled as media rendezvous points as well, an easy place we could inform the local media to meet us before heading to the still unannounced winner’s home nearby.
None of the Duluth-area media were able to make it, we suspect because we weren’t awarding millions of dollars or that they had to rush to cover a big story somewhere else. The small town of Moose Lake knew we had arrived in town though and besides just the local coffee shop patrons and other passers-by ogling at us and wondering if we were just some elaborate hoax or the real deal, the two local newspaper publishers quickly showed up to cover the story.
Here is a link to a picture that the Moose Lake Star Gazzette had on their front page for a few weeks.
Everyone wanted to know who the winner was but we kept our cards tight and wouldn’t show them our hand. In a small town like this, the chances that someone knows (and might alert) the winner are much greater. So we finally get going, Jack at the steering wheel with the big check near his seat and me in the back of the caravan with the dozen roses (prepared Miss America style of course) and balloons ready to jump out once we pulled up to the winner’s home (still known only to us). The newspaper publishers were following us in their pickup trucks and the adrenaline was officially flowing big time.
We turned down this road and that, over that way and down this road, finally arriving on a dirt road 15 minutes outside of town. We see our winner’s house (thankfully the address was posted clearly) and pull up between his house and the neighbor’s. Immediately, one of the newspaper publishers jumps out of his truck and runs up to our car window. “I gotta know now! Who’s the winner??!!” Jack showed him the check with the winner’s name. “Ohhh! That’s my next door neighbor! I live right there!” The publisher of the local newspaper in Moose Lake lived right next door to our first winner and followed us all the way watching us turn on this road and that, down all these back roads and as we turned on his street his heart was pounding away wondering if it was him who had won.
The next part of this story I’ll tell in fast-forward-scan mode. The winner wasn’t home so we drove 20 minutes
to where we thought he worked (a Sappi paper mill in Cloquet,
Minnesota) based on what the newspaper publisher/next-door neighbor
told us. The Prize Patrol van sign
started coming off in the rain that had been coming down quite heavily, so we
pulled off the road and re-secured it.
As we were there in the rain trying to get it on, these two guys pulled up next to us and after realizing we were the
real thing, offered to show us the way to the guy’s job. They did and to show our gratitude (and so
they could tell their friends) I used the one guy’s
camera phone to take a picture of them with Jack and the Prize Patrol van. We got to the factory but the guard said he
had no record of the guy working there so we went back
And for the story as published by one of the local newspapers, click or copy this link:
http://www.ml-star-gazette.com//index.php and click “story…” underneath that first picture.
Here’s just a short note about this part of the trip. After awarding the prize in Moose Lake, we drove to Duluth and stayed there that night at a cool place called Fitger’s Inn which is right on Lake Superior.
Two notes: Bob Dylan was
from Duluth and they are of course very proud of that fact. Also, take a look at
Superior on a map of The United States. It’s almost as large
York State. So it was quite impressive looking out at what looked like
an ocean, seeing
The folks at V.I.P. Weddings (a combination flower shop and wedding chapel) wanted us to somehow surprise the winner and have the media right there in their shop. Publishers Clearing House isn’t going to change its whole way of surprising. We always surprise our winners at their home or business or hospital…more on that below. We had them take a picture with us though. See below.
Okay so we had the local PBS affiliate there and he followed us to the winner’s home. But he wasn’t there either. We went to the local hospital where he was having his hearing aid adjusted. He was 85 and in a wheelchair, a WWII vet from the Merchant Marine. He stated that he would tithe 10% to his church, put half in the bank and then go buy a gun! For his collection. So let’s go to the videotape—so to speak. Click/go here and our news story is at 6 minutes 10 seconds in so let it load up:
This story may only be online until this Wednesday the 21st though, I’m not sure. So check it out! I’m going to try and get the video on DVD from the station though.
We got into
We stayed at the Donaldson and made a visit to their rooftop bar which sports lounge chairs, a wild prairie garden and even a hot tub (which was unfortunately closed the night we were there). Jack and I asked some nice people nearby to take our picture:
And within the hour those same nice people were buying us drinks and—talk about North Dakota Nice—even bought us these cool sweatshirts (the hotel’s nickname is “HoDo Fargo”:
Yes, the Titanic really was the
ship of dreams. Wait, what was I
This is the view on the way to her house:
She was delighted with the surprise and we were so happy to make her day. This and more pictures below:
Our winner in
When we got to the restaurant, the
owner of the place met us and welcomed us to his establishment.
He was David K. Martin, President
of The Fargo Chamber Of Commerce
and he wanted to thank us for coming to
heard we were at the Old Broadway restaurant and missed us there, then tried to
catch us at the
Sean Brennan in
Sean with Paul Bunyan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Bunyan_(lumberjack)
Marg Cossette and her co-workers
from American Family Insurance in
What a great job we had!
Making people smile all over
Along the way – some other interesting sights!
Attending a livestock auction on the prairies in
Funny sight –
And then with the flight back it was over