Just minutes before being named one of the biggest Publishers Clearing House winners in the history of the half-century-old sweepstakes, White City resident John Wyllie was stressing about caring for his aging father, and wondering how to pay bills and keep a roof over his head.
Then came the Prize Patrol.
The 47-year-old, part-time book binder for CDS Publications was awarded PCH's $5,000 A Week "Forever" prize on Friday, meaning he will receive a check for $5,000 every week for the rest of his life — and for the rest of a family member or friend's life after he's gone.
"Oh God, I can buy my dad a new house!" Wyllie exclaimed. "I never would have thought in a million or two million or three million years this could happen."
Wyllie moved to White City from Astoria five years ago to live with his father, Vernon Wyllie, in the White City Mobile Estates along Antelope Road.
On Friday morning, Prize Patrol crew members and local media hiked from one end of the park to the other as a Jackson County Sheriff's Department lieutenant flipped his siren and announced via loudspeaker, "Somebody won Publishers Clearing House."
The Prize Patrol crew said neighbors typically run outside and follow the entourage. But none of the mobile home park residents came outside to follow the crew, though small children peered through windows as dogs barked.
Vernon Wyllie was greeted outside his home by Prize Patrol Executive Director Dave Sayer, who told him not to tell his son who's asking for him.
When John Wyllie walked outside, his legs began to shake and he covered his mouth as Sayer said, "I'm Dave Sayer from Publishers Clearing House."
Wyllie burst into tears and leaned over, grasping his knees as Sayer presented a giant award letter and 11 weeks' worth of payments — a check for $5,000 and another for $50,000.
Wyllie is the first ever recipient of the weekly prize with the "forever" distinction.
Wyllie said he would take care of his father, who "deserves this more than me."
Father and son said they've been playing the sweepstakes via regular mail and online.
"I've been doing it for 25 years and you kind of give up hope after awhile," said Vernon Wyllie.
The sweepstakes portion of the 59-year-old Publishers Clearing House began in 1967. Sayer said the $5,000 a Week for Life "Forever" is one of the biggest prizes he had awarded in his decades with the company.
Prize Patrol member Danielle Lam, who said no two prize-winner responses are the same, laughed as Wyllie popped the cork on his "Prize Patrol Champagne" and flung the bottle all over brown grass in front of his home.
"Whoa! Woo! Who-Hoo!" yelled Wyllie as he took a long swig, then proclaimed, "Too bad this is not real."
"It's real," Sayer assured him, noting, "I think the shakes are gone."
Vernon Wyllie chuckled at the Prize Patrol's trip from New York to present the prize money, noting that he heard New York was a nice place to be from — "far away from."
After decades of presenting prize money to winners, Sayer said he never tires of "making dreams come true."
Wyllie said he wanted to pay his dad back "for everything he's ever done."
"You don't owe," his father said.
Vernon Wyllie reminisced that he and his late wife would talk about what they'd do if they won Publishers Clearing House.
"I always said I would have bought her three new pair of Levi's and moved out of this trailer park," he said.
John Wyllie said he wanted to buy his father a house and auto shop, get himself a new car and "try to make smart decisions and help some people" with his newfound wealth.
"I just hope people believe now that this really can happen," he said.
His father added, "Now you can get that new computer."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.