Publishers Clearing House

As a child I remember a fat envelope arriving at our house every year. Full of magazine subscription pleas, it was also a way to enter a drawing for cash prizes beyond your wildest dreams. Publishers Clearing House made you jump through a ridiculous number of hoops before you could do so, though. It left you with a vague sense that if you had forgotten to add this sticker to that form, and fold it just so, you’d be disqualified. It was their way of making you read every single page of advertising in the hopes that it would entice you into buying magazines. It was really kind of annoying, and yet I’d enter every single year.

I knew that the odds of my winning and them showing up at my door with an enormous check and a bouquet of balloons were astronomical. (And what a cool job that would be! The Balloon Bearer for Publishers Clearing House!)

But for a brief shining moment I’d get to fantasize about what I’d do with all that money. What would it be like to lay down that daily burden of survival anxiety? How would I live my life if I could just focus on doing things that I love? It all seemed so out of reach. It still does. It’s a nice dream to have, though, if only for a split second.

Nowadays it’s much easier to enter their contest. You can go to their website and enter on line. I have absolutely no idea where their money comes from in these modern times. I haven’t seen anyone actually take out a magazine subscription in years. (Magazines are those things that you see in your doctor’s waiting room or in the checkout line at the grocery store. They just sit there. No one actually buys them or reads them.)

I tend to think of Publisher’s Clearing House as the purveyor of unattainable dreams. But as they say, you can’t win if you don’t play!


2 thoughts on “Publishers Clearing House

  1. Angiportus

    What I recall about those people is, their catalogs had all manner of interesting books and records–you recall those black things–and in the remote setting where I was stranded as a teen, it was a blessing. I pursued my newfound interest in electronic music, and found some gems. I always figured the sweepstakes or whatever they were for a scam, but I’m still a major fan of Subotnick’s “Silver Apples of the Moon”.

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