Behind the Scenes of the PCH Prize Patrol

How Does it Feel to Be a PCH Prize Patrol Deputy?

Janice Ryan Hands Over a Winning Check as Part of the PCH Prize Patrol.
Janice Ryan Hands Over a Winning Check as Part of the PCH Prize Patrol. Image © Publishers Clearing House, Used with Permission

For many Americans, the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol is like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus: It's nice to dream about seeing them, but few believe they really will. Catching a glimpse of that white van with the huge check inside seems like a pipe dream.

But the PCH Prize Patrol does exist, and it's staffed by real people whose jobs center around giving life-changing prizes to lucky winners. Read on to find out all about what the PCH Prize Patrol does.

What Is the PCH Prize Patrol?

The PCH Prize Patrol is a group of people who travel across America to deliver prizes to the winners of PCH's SuperPrize Sweepstakes, as well as other PCH drawings. The PCH Prize Patrol personally delivers all the big prizes that Publishers Clearing House awards throughout the year. Smaller prizes are awarded by postal mail or by email. 

How to tell if it's really PCH who shows up at your door? The PCH Prize Patrol has a distinctive look and way of operating that differentiates them from scammers. They arrive at the winner's home in the branded white PCH Prize Patrol van and each patrol member wears a distinctive blue jacket with a Prize Patrol badge. They bring champagne, flowers, balloons, and an oversized check to present to the winner. They often invite members of the local media to cover the event.

Who's on the PCH Prize Patrol?

PCH Prize Patrol members are all employees of the company. The team is headed by Executive Director Dave Sayer, Senior Vice President Todd Sloane, and Danielle Lam. 

So what is it like to be a member of the nigh-mythical Prize Patrol team? Publisher's Clearing House's Executive Vice President Debbie Holland, who has been with the company for 30 years, and Senior Manager of Internet Marketing & Site Development Janice Ryan weighed in with their experiences in an exclusive interview with Sandra Grauschopf.

What Does it Take to Be a Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol Member?

Is a position as a Prize Patrol Deputy is a viable career path? What kinds of skills would it take to be hired as a Deputy?

The Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol is made up of a core team of about five people. However, other members of the PCH team can be invited to be a part of the PCH Prize Patrol from time to time.

For example, PCH conducted a "Prize Patrol Blitz," which awarded dozens of prizes across the United States at the same time. To handle such a massive outpouring of prizes, 60 regular PCH employees, including Janice Ryan, were temporarily recruited to the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol.

Debbie Holland said that it's not easy to become a Prize Patrol member, though. It seems like everyone at PCH would love to have that job!

How Do You Train to Be a PCH Prize Patrol Member?

If you're a regular Publishers Clearing House employee, you don't just go out on a Prize Patrol Blitz. First, you get sent to… Prize Patrol Boot Camp!

That's right, every potential Prize Patrol Deputy attends a two-week Prize Patrol Boot Camp to learn the necessary skills for awarding huge prizes to strangers.

What kinds of things do employees learn in the PCH Prize Patrol Boot Camp? According to Janice Ryan, the lessons cover topics like:

  • How to alert the local news media.
  • How to discover where the winner will be without ruining the surprise.
  • How to represent Publishers Clearing House well.
  • How to get a good shot of the winner's reaction for the cameras.

How Does the PCH Prize Patrol Award Prizes?

Before the Prize Patrol heads to the winner's home, the members buy everything they need to make the prize really special, including a bottle of champagne, bunches of helium balloons, and flowers from a local florist.

Janice Ryan said that on one of her deliveries, the florist was so excited to hear about who was buying the flowers (and why!) that they shut the shop down and went along with the Prize Patrol to present the big prize to its winner.

The next thing that the Prize Patrol does is try to find out where the winner is going to be without giving away the big surprise. PCH purposely doesn't notify winners in advance so that their reactions are genuine when the Prize Patrol shows up.

Sometimes, the Prize Patrol will call ahead to say that the winner will be receiving a delivery, but they don't mention that the delivery in question is a huge check from Publishers Clearing House. Other times, they enlist friends or family members to help or surprise the winner at a known location like a party or their workplace.

Finally, the Prize Patrol is responsible for communicating the excitement of the big win with the general public. To do this, they surprise the winner with the fabulous news, guide them out of the doorway and into the sunlight where the camera can get a good shot, and ask the questions that viewers most want to hear.

Some examples of popular questions include what the winners are going to do with the money and which of the many methods to enter the SuperPrize giveaway they used to enter.

What Does the PCH Prize Patrol Do If You Aren't Home to Receive a Prize?

You never have to worry that you'll forfeit a prize if you aren't home when the PCH Prize Patrol comes knocking.

If the winner isn't home, the PCH Prize Patrol doesn't just leave and draw another winner — they locate the winner and surprise them wherever they are.

They might knock at a neighbor's door to ask for help or they may go to the winner's workplace and ask a coworker to bring them to their office, where the Prize Patrol is lying in wait.

The PCH Prize Patrol Shares the Excitement of Winning With the Public

Publishers Clearing House is always looking for ways to make awarding their prizes more fun for those of us on the sidelines.

For example, the Prize Patrol is on Twitter, and many of the Deputies ​tweeted their activities live during the last Prize Patrol Blitz. Followers could see where the Prize Patrol was and where they were heading, building excitement about the giveaway.

Important Tip:

Individual Prize Patrol members will not reach out to you on social media to let you know you've won a prize. If you get a message like that, it's a scam! See this article from PCH for more details.

Sometimes, the PCH Blog will send clues about where the PCH Prize Patrol van is heading next on social media. Readers can follow along and guess where the final destination will be. It's especially exciting if the patrol is heading your way!

Another way that you can share in the fun of the prize wins is with the PCH Prize Patrol website. The website features a map that shows the locations of past winners and future destinations for the Prize Patrol. It also has ways to contact PCH and shares posts from the PCH Prize Patrol blog and relevant tweets from Twitter.