Adam Rose, a California teacher, made less than $11 an hour when he stood in line for 18 hours to be in the audience ofThe Price Is Right. Those hours of patience certainly paid off. Adam became the biggest winner in The Price Is Right history when he won $1 million plus two showcases. Immediately, Adam put his newfound fortune to good use.
"The first thing I thought was, 'I don't have to work two jobs anymore,'" he says. "I was able to pay off my bills and get to spend a lot more time with my daughter."
Adam also bought a house, an SUV, cars for his family, opened his own daycare center and donated money to charity. As if that wasn't enough, Adam gave $1,000 each to the two audience members who helped him practice prices during the long wait in line.
Drew Carey, host of The Price Is Right, says that as great as Adam's reaction was, he's seen crazier. "We had a women pee herself when she was playing Plinko," he says. "And she only won $21,000!"
When Tomorrow Rodriguez was picked to be a contestant on Deal or No Deal, she was living paycheck to paycheck. "We were still behind on some bills," she says. "We were over a hundred-and-something thousand dollars in debt from school loans and bad choices."
All that changed when Tomorrow picked the million-dollar briefcase. "I was just praying," she says. "I just kept saying, 'I'm going to have favor.'"
Since her big win, Tomorrow has paid off all her bills. "When you get all your debt paid off, you feel really, really good," she says. "It's a relief. Freedom. The chains are off."
It was an ordinary day in 2007 when everything changed for Tom Hewkin and his wife, Kathy. The middle school principal bought a lottery ticket every day for 15 years, so he didn't think anything of that morning's megabucks—until it won the couple $5.4 million in the Oregon state lottery. "To this day, it's still like a dream," Kathy says.
Since hitting the jackpot, both Tom and Kathy retired, and they've taken 15 vacations in just two years. "I want to see all 50 states. I want to go to every continent," Tom says. "That's on the bucket list." They've also paid off their mortgage, remodeled their home and splurged on a 1957 T-bird convertible.
One of their favorite things to do with the money is surprise others, they say. "When we go out to eat, usually we look around and say, 'Oh, that looks like a good couple.' And we tell the waitress we want to pick up their bill without them knowing who it is. ... I wish we had more so we could just stand out on the street and hand it out!"
The Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol has been surprising Americans across the country for 20 years. Stephanie Gornichec, the most recent winner, had just lost her job, was on the verge of bankruptcy and had a home in foreclosure when her doorbell rang. The million-dollar check changed her life forever. "We didn't know what we were going to do," she says. "We were starting to look for a new place to live."
Stephanie's husband, Shaun, says the relief was overwhelming. "It was extremely emotional. Just the stress we've been going through the past year when she was laid off from her job and I had to pick up extra hours to make ends meet," he says. "To hear this knock on the door, the sense of relief was just so awesome."
The Prize Patrol has more money to give out—this time to an Oprah Show audience member. Each person in the audience filled out a form when they arrived to Harpo Studios, and David Sayer of the Prize Patrol picked one lucky winner of $25,000 at random: Sue Draper.
Sue says this surprise was meant to be. "My husband did this for me," she says. "He was very ill for the last two years. He had leukemia. ... I had these tickets since 2007, and we couldn't come because every time we turned around, he'd relapse. So when this came together, I said: 'All right, Lee, this is what you want for me so badly. I'll go so something special will happen.'" Sue's husband passed away less than two months ago, but she says this was his last gift for her. "I thought maybe I'll get a picture with Oprah or something. I got a dream way bigger."
The Prize Patrol isn't letting anyone go home empty-handed. Every audience member is getting $500!
When Carolyn Gurtz created her Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookie recipe
, she may not have known it was a million-dollar idea. But that's exactly how much the 61-year-old won when she got the grand prize at Pillsbury's 43rd Bake-Off. What makes her cookies so special? "They're crunchy and sweet on the outside, and they have a creamy filling," she says. "There's a peanut butter ball in the middle."
Carolyn says she gave some of her money to her family, invested some and donated some to her church. "Part of the prize was new kitchen appliances, so I had my kitchen redone," she says.
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