Publishers Clearing House reps Danielle Lam and Howie Guja on Sunday, Feb. 28, surprised Cottage Grove resident Tamar Veatch and her family with $5,000 every week for life. It’s among the biggest PCH awards, Lam said, because after Tamar passes away, she can designate someone else to continue receiving the $5,000 a week for the rest of their life, too. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
COTTAGE GROVE – You could’ve knocked Cottage Grove resident Tamar Veatch over with a feather Sunday morning after she opened her door to $5,000 every week. Forever.
Her husband Matthew heard a knocking on the door in the morning, and called on his wife to investigate. “Honey, you need to answer the door. There’s people outside with balloons,” he yelled.
“I thought he was joking,” Tamar said. Unsure, she peeked out the window, turned the doorknob slowly and that’s when it hit her … she was about to win big.
Tamar and Matthew Veatch are still in shock, but their happiness cannot be contained after winning $5,000 a week for life on Feb. 28. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
The Publishers Clearing House on Sunday, Feb. 28, awarded Tamar one of the biggest prizes of the year – $5,000 a week for life, and then after that, $5,000 a week for life to a beneficiary of Tamar’s choosing. John Wyllie From White City, Ore. in 2012 was the first person in Oregon to win this award; Tamar is the second.
“This is my favorite prize because it’s really two lifetimes,” said Danielle Lam, PCH prize patrol elite member and a recognizable face in the PCH commercials. “It’s passing it down and leaving a legacy to someone.”
Prize Patrol members Howie Guja and Danielle Lam take a selfie with the Veatch family in Cottage Grove after they revealed Tamar won one of the biggest prizes of the year. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
“It is very real and I am still in shock. I can’t believe this. This is crazy. Oh my word,” Tamar said.
Both retired and disabled veterans, “we have a very fixed income,” Matthew said. “It’s quite a feeling that we don’t have to depend on that money anymore,” Tamar said.
The Veatchs moved from Eugene to Cottage Grove six years ago and are raising their children, 9-year-old Liya, 6-year old Ronen and one-year-old Anya, in what the previous owner dubbed a “cabbage” – a mixture of a cabin and a cottage.
In her spare time, Veatch periodically dabbles on the PCH app and on the website. “I would enter a few contests and then just kind of get on with life,” she said, still working through the shock. “I was expecting to maybe one day win one of the smaller prizes, but I didn’t ever expect to win the big prize.”
Tamar said they plan to use the money to help pay off debt, put money in a college fund for their kids, and take an anniversary vacation of their lifetime. “We were planning on going to England before the pandemic, so this (money) will definitely help us get there,” she said, adding that the fluctuating prices of airline tickets is no longer a concern.
The Veatchs met in the Army after being stationed in Germany. “This year is our 20th wedding anniversary and we are going to go back to Germany,” Matthew said, who is a 2000 alumnus of Thurston High School.
The sweepstakes crew first gathered at the Flower Basket Gift & Boutique, where owner Carol Reeves strung balloons and arranged a bright red flower bouquet for the winners, and showed Prize Patrol the ropes to the Grove.
All eyes are on The Flower Basket Gift & Boutique, as the Publishers Clearing House camera crew shoot video before surprising the award winners. Carol Reeves, owner of the Flower Basket, supplied the flowers and balloons for the winners, and helped the Prize Patrol navigate through town. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
Reeves said she always thought it would be awesome to be the florist for events like these at Publishers Clearing House. Then out of the blue, the PCH called her three days ago and asked her to be the florist.
“I loved being part of this life-changing experience for the lucky winner,” Reeves said, and “Danielle and Howie (Guja) of the PCH Prize Patrol were so much fun to work with.”
Howie Guja and Danielle Lam, Publishers Clearing House members, pose with Carol Reeves, owner of the Flower Basket Gift & Boutique, which supplied balloons and flowers for the contest winners. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
“We love supporting local businesses when we travel to do these sweepstakes,” Lam said, who purchased a sunhat from the boutique before the big event. The night before, Lam said the New York-based crew checked out the local scene and enjoyed dinner at the Axe & Fiddle. Howie Guja, Prize Patrol member said he is impressed by the breweries in the Pacific Northwest and the crew was looking forward to visiting Coast Fork Brewing after the event.
Publishers Clearing House reps Danielle Lam and Howie Guja shoot film for their commercial at some iconic Cottage Grove scenes. ERIN TIERNEY/THE CHRONICLE
“The experience of seeing Tamar’s reaction was priceless and I love the fact that they are disabled veterans and are very deserving,” Reeves said.
Check out The Chronicle’s Facebook page for videos from the event.