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Publishers Clearing House reps Danielle Lam, left, and Howie Guja on Sunday, Feb. 28, surprise Cottage Grove resident Tamar Veatch and her family. Lam said the sweepstakes prize is one of the largest of the year.
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 that 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.
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.”
“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 1-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.
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Flower Basket Gift & Boutique owner Carol Reeves, center with balloons and flowers, said she “loved being part of this life-changing experience.”
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,” said Matthew, 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.
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.”
“We love supporting local businesses when we travel to do these sweepstakes,” said Lam, 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.
“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.