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Lamar couple win big check

Hank and Susan Phillips thought Thursday, Feb. 6, was going to be an ordinary day.
“It’s my one day off during the week,” said Susan Phillips, who works as a registered nurse at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mountain Home.
Then the dog started barking.
“I thought she was just barking at a squirrel or something,” Susan said. “She does that.”
Hank Phillips looked out the window, thought he saw some cars at the base of the driveway and decided to go down and check it all out. While he was there, he said, he figured he’d get the morning paper.
What Hank found was not at all what he expected.
A strange man in a fancy suit and a very large check met him at the bottom of the hill. Hank had won $10,000 from Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, a game he played online.
“I played Publishers Clearing House games online every day,” said Hank, a former Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy who currently works in bail bonds.
But he never imagined he would win.
That response, said Dave Sayers, the check-carrying representative from Publishers Clearing House, is not unusual.
A part of the company’s Prize Patrol for about 30 years, Sayers said he has tracked winners to their homes, their workplaces, even to the hospital, and has seen reactions from amazement to disbelief.
“They’ll wake up the next morning wondering ‘did that really happen?’ and then come out and see the wilted balloons,” Sayer said.
In business since 1953, Publishers Clearing House and its Prize Patrol have been synonymous with mail-in entries and big prizes for more than 60 years, he added. As times have changed, however, the company adapted by also including internet contacts.
“There’s all kinds of ways you can win at Publishers Clearing House now,” Sayer said. “More and more people are playing online.”
Currently, Sayers said, he is in charge of giving out up to 100 or more awards throughout the year. This year, he said, there’re about 30. He prefers to knock on the door to catch winners by surprise in their homes, but Hank’s curiosity meant Sayer had to deliver the good news in the driveway.
Now all Hank had to do was tell Susan, so he headed back up the hill, complete with balloons, a bottle of Prize Patrol champagne, a dozen roses and — of course — the check.
That was the last thing Susan expected.
“I kept wondering what was taking him so long to get that paper,” she said again and again. “I knew he played, but I never thought a thing in this world about it.”
Both admitted they were still almost too surprised to take it in.
“Honey, I don’t know. I’m still in shock,” Susan said when asked what they planned to do with the money.
“I imagine we’ll save it,” said Hank.
But not before they called their family, possibly for a celebratory dinner. Hank has a sister in Jonesborough, Susan’s mother lives on Highway 107 and they have children and grandchildren scattered around the area.
“Ma and Pa are never going to believe this,” Susan said.