SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — What was once a sad day has become a happy memory for Cecilia Fuller, winning a million dollars from Publishers Clearing House on the 30th anniversary of her mother’s passing.

On Monday, Oct. 30, Publishers Clearing House presented a one million dollar check to Fuller for winning the prize with almost a billion tokens.

Although it took Fuller an hour to get out of the house — as she wasn’t feeling well and thought it might be a scam — when she finally answered the door she was greeted by Howie Guja and Fahlon Brown, of the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol.

“We’re here to give away one million dollars, it’s always a happy day for the winner and we never know what’s going to happen it’s a lot of excitement,” said Guja. “There are a bunch of cars in the driveway, it doesn’t mean somebody’s going to be home but fingers crossed.”

After knocking on the doors, windows, and speaking to neighbors who were shouting from next-door, when Fuller finally opened the door, she was shocked to see that she won, asking, “Is this really real?”

“We got a million dollars for you, I’m not playing around, we’re from Publishers Clearing House,” said Guja once Fuller finally opened the door. “This is really real, we were just about to give up and come back later.”

According to Fuller, she’s been entering the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes for years, starting when she lived in the Bay Area of California, (where she grew up), and then it became a morning routine for her when she moved to Syracuse in 2017 after her father passed away.

“We knew it was a more affordable cost of living compared to where we’re from and then we heard that New York had free college and I was following the baseball team at the time, and my daughter mentioned Upstate, NY, and here we are.”

The money couldn’t have come at a better time for Fuller who expressed that she’s been struggling for the past three years since the death of her husband, during the first year of the pandemic in 2020.

Since his passing, Fuller admitted it’s been hard keeping up with the house repairs and currently she has no running water or heat as she said her house pipes burst. So, the first thing she said she would do with the money is fix the house repairs and get new cars.

“I think I’m just going to get rid of these, they’re still registered in my husband’s name, a lot of things I just haven’t really dealt with since they passed away and just help the kids,” said Fuller.

Although she was reluctant to come to the door, she was glad she finally did and now that she’s won, her advice to others is to “keep playing.”

“You are eligible to win again, so you shouldn’t stop playing. Keep playing who knows maybe we’ll be back,” said Guja.

“Maybe I’ll take a little break, but it’s probably because it’s been such a habit, like I just do it at this point, so maybe I’ll just keep doing it, and it doesn’t cost anything. It’s one of those things where you hope and think positive but in the back of your mind you think ‘well that hardly even happens,’ but it does happen,” said Fuller.

If you’re interested in entering the sweepstakes, Guja’s advice to future winners is to be nice to your neighbors.

“If they’re not there hopefully someone else is home who can tell us where they work or where they might be, if nobody’s home then we’ll go to neighbors. So I always joke around and say ‘be nice to your neighbors’ because neighbors have often helped us track the winner down when nobody’s home.”

To find out more information about Publishers Clearing House and its sweepstakes, click here.