A 53-year-old salesman who faithfully kept score of animated beer bottles playing football during Super Bowl commercials received $1 million Thursday as the grand-prize winner in Budweiser's "Bud Bowl V" sweepstakes.
While neighbors gawked and television cameras rolled, a Brinks armored truck, led by a Fountain Valley police car with its siren blaring, turned onto Sam Clemens' quiet cul-de-sac and delivered the $1 million. In cash. As in stacks and stacks of $50 and $100 bills carried by serious-looking men with guns.
Rather than present Clemens with a check and a handshake, Anheuser-Busch Inc. arranged to pay off the prize in cash in an elaborate publicity stunt. The beer company withdrew the money from a bank, hired an armored car and off-duty, plain-clothes Los Angeles police officers for extra security and asked Fountain Valley police to provide an escort.
As the convoy entered Tulipan Circle, longtime neighbor Jean Williams, who thought she was going to see Clemens and his wife, Joanne, receive a simple check, exclaimed, "A Brinks truck! Oh my goodness."
"That's hype for you," added her husband, John.
Two armed guards pulled out four sacks of money and plopped it at the top of the Clemenses' driveway. One sack was opened and bundled stacks of money were shown to the Clemenses and a swarm of about 45 other people, including reporters, TV crews, company representatives and neighbors.
"Community property," shouted Joanne Clemens as she held up a bundle of her husband's winnings.
Her husband rifled through several stacks of bound cash. "Fifty thousand dollars. OK, it looks like it's all there," he quipped.
Sam Clemens, who markets new inventions to area companies for the National Idea Center in Washington, is a distant cousin of writer Mark Twain. His parents live on the banks of the Missouri River, he said.
So far, he and his wife have no definite plans for the money beyond traveling a little and replacing a 1987 Chevrolet with 207,000 miles on it.
"Kind of put a little money away for a rainy day and retirement," Sam Clemens said.
No retirement is on the horizon, though. "I think I'd get tired of lying on the beach every day," he said.
Joanna Clemens said she will continue teaching kindergarten at Moffett School in Huntington Beach through the next school year. After that, she said, she will become a part-time substitute teacher so she can enjoy a life of travel and leisure.
Once the last photograph was shot and the TV cameras were turned off, the armed Brinks guards dutifully returned the money to the armored truck and drove off. The $1 million will be placed in the Clemens' bank account via wire transfer.
By picking up his Bud Bowl game card from an AM-PM Mini Mart, Clemens also won another $1 million from Atlantic Richfield Co. That million will be awarded through payments of $50,000 a year for 20 years.
As the ceremony was wrapping up, neighbor John Ross, 31, continued watching from the sidewalk across the street. "It looks like he'll make it through the recession OK," he said.