POMPANO BEACH, FL—Beatrice Farmer, a Pompano Beach-area octogenarian, received notification Monday that she may already have won a huge cash prize.
"It's so exciting," the arthritic Farmer said. "I suppose this is the good Lord's way of rewarding me."
The prize packet, dispatched to Farmer's one-room apartment in an important-looking envelope bearing a gold seal and the word 'official,' informed the frail widow that a special prize of $833,337 was being held in a reinforced steel safe for her, provided she returns her specially selected prize number and that her number is the winning one.
"Great news, Ms. Beatrice Farmer!" the prize-notification letter read. "You are one of the LUCKY FINALISTS specially selected to receive Continental Neighborhood Publishers' 1999 GRAND SWEEPSTAKES PRIZE!"
Even if she is not the Grand Prize Winner, Farmer, born during the Taft Administration, is still guaranteed at least one of four other fabulous and exciting runner-up prizes: a year-long around-the-world cruise, a Sony 24-inch projection TV with satellite dish, a 2000 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, or a stunning one-carat Diamonaire pendant, complete with gold alloy chain and display case.
"I could certainly use that Cadillac," said Farmer, swallowing her heart medication. "But I have to respond right away and tell them what color Cadillac I want. And I have to put the right sticker on my prize-claim envelope."
If Farmer does not want any of the prizes for which she is eligible, she may "opt out" of the contest by affixing the black "NO, Give All My Prizes To Someone Else!" sticker to the exterior of her reply envelope. But if, on the other hand, the not-long-for-this-earth Farmer is excited about her participation in the sweepstakes, she may affix the red "YES, Please Register My Name In The Official Finalists' Ledger!" sticker.
Nearly as exciting as Farmer's once-in-a-lifetime prize opportunity is her chance to save big money on subscriptions to popular magazines.
"I suppose helping them out with some business is the least I can do," said Farmer, peering out her apartment's lone window. "I figure I'll subscribe to Fortune and Money—I'll probably need them, with all the prize money coming my way."
"I can't exactly read regular-sized print so well these days," she added, "but once I get the money, I'll finally be able to afford cataract surgery, so I'd like to have the magazines waiting there for me to read when that's done with."
The award comes as a surprise to Farmer, who said the largest prize she had ever previously won was a pound cake in 1976 as a church-raffle runner-up award. "I guess if you just wait long enough, your ship will finally come in."
Added Farmer: "I hope Irene visits me today."