Prize Patrol surprises Sandy woman Flor Ruiz with $25,000
Feb 04, 2019 11:32AM
By Heather Lawrence
Wilfredo and Flor Ruiz stand outside the daycare in Sandy where Ruiz works. Ruiz was just informed by presenter Howie Guja she had won $25,000 from Publishers Clearing House. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
Christmas came a couple weeks early for Flor Ruiz of Sandy and her husband Wilfredo; Flor was awarded $25,000 by Publishers Clearing House (PCH) Prize Patrol on December 6.
Flor entered the prize drawing online every day for the last year. She has won smaller amounts before, $10 checks, but this was her first time receiving a prize on this scale.
“It’s amazing! I’m happy, happy, happy!” Flor said when Howie Guja of the Prize Patrol surprised her at work and handed her a huge novelty check.
Guja, who flew out from New York to award the prize, organized a Prize Patrol meeting with media at Absolutely Flowers in Sandy. After picking up some flowers and balloons, the team headed to Flor’s home in Sandy. When Wilfredo answered the door, he said she was at work.
“She’ll be home maybe in one hour,” said Wilfredo. Unable to wait, Wilfredo joined the Prize Patrol and led them to the Sandy daycare where Flor works. When Wilfredo brought her outside to the parking lot, Guja stepped out from behind a car to tell her she’d won.
Brandishing the novelty check, flowers and balloons, Guja said, “I’m looking for Flor — are you Flor? Do you have any idea what this might be about?”
Flor, who is originally from Venezuela, needed a little help from her husband, who translated into Spanish some of the questions and her responses. Though she was soft-spoken, her happiness was obvious.
“I have three kids and four grandchildren. Maybe it’s time for a nice family vacation,” said Flor, when Guja asked what she would do with the money.
Guja, who is based at Publishers Clearing House in Jericho, New York, said this is the best part of his job. He flies out several times a month to destinations all over the country to award prizes.
“A lot of people don’t believe that this is real, but it’s real,” Guja said.
Despite the good fortune of Flor and many other winners across the country, there are scams out there that will take your money, not reward you. The Publishers Clearing House blog gives three warning signs to guard against being taken advantage of. The warning signs are worth a read for those who play.
The first warning is that you get a friend request on social media from PCH. They will never do that. The second is that you are asked to pay a fee in order to claim a prize, which is another red flag. The third warning is that you are informed you have won a big prize in any way other than in person.
Though smaller checks ($10) go out in the mail, “the best way to award a big prize in in person, and we go out of our way to do it. We love nothing more than to see the winner’s reaction. We never alert big winners in advance and we always keep it a big surprise,” wrote Debbie K. of the PCH team on the blog.
Flor was surprised she had won, but her smile was ear to ear. After signing some legal documents and giving Ruiz the real check, Guja leaned over to shake her hand one last time. “I’m happy for you and glad you won. You seem like very nice, deserving people,” Guja said.