After almost 30 years, Bay Area man's contest dreams come true

A Bay Area man has a million reasons to smile this Friday.  He just became a millionaire thanks to the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol. 

“I’ve been entering for many, many years and it paid off. I love it. You guys are great,” said big winner Mike Flaherty. 

FOX 13 was there for the big reveal, tagging along behind the team as they pulled up to the Valrico home. As Flaherty learned, those sweepstakes ads really are real.  

“It is totally 100-percent legitimate,” said Dave Sayer, the executive director of the Prize Patrol. “It is a surprise, just like you see on TV.  People think it’s rehearsed. It’s not, believe me.” 

Sayer has been handing out these prizes for the last 30 years. He says, so far, he's awarded close to a half-billion dollars. 

Flaherty was still a bit speechless even after the big moment, but he says there is one thing he plans to do right away. 

“I’m going to get my four-door truck now…I’m going to do it now,” he laughed. 

Flaherty started entering the sweepstakes early on in his nearly 30-year Coast Guard career.

“Might've had to wait 30 years for it, but it’s been wonderful! I love it!  I love you guys,” he gushed.

VIDEO: Extended clip: Winner's full moment of surprise