Now that’s a gift.

Paul Casey awoke Friday morning knowing he had to work in the afternoon, but not before he got the surprise of his life.

Publishers Clearing House’s Prize Patrol showed up at his Fort Atkinson home to tell him he won their grand prize this week of $30,000.

“Oh my gosh, I’m just flabbergasted. It’s my birthday,” Casey said as three members of the Prize Patrol handed him a giant check – along with a real one.

“I could use the money,” he said. “I just retired this past year.”

When thinking of what he might buy, Casey said a new car would be nice and maybe he would give some money to his church.

“Real people really do win — just like you Paul,” said Danielle Lam, who handed Casey Champagne to celebrate, along with red roses.

“It’s like a dream,” he said, standing outside his apartment.

“Especially on my birthday. What a birthday present.”

Casey said he has been trying to win something from Publishers Clearing House for 10 years and had no idea the Prize Patrol was coming to his apartment along High Street, across from Ralph Park.

As people drove by and saw the balloons and camera crew, they honked.

The secret that the Prize Patrol was coming to Fort Atkinson was kept under wraps until Wednesday, when they alerted local media. But they never told who was receiving the money. That moment always is kept a surprise.

Tim Humphrey, who owns Humphrey Floral and Gift, posted online Thursday that the Prize Patrol was coming and had thousands of views. But no one knew who was going to win.

The Prize Patrol members flew in from New York and arrived at 10:30 a.m. at the flower shop in downtown Fort Atkinson to pick up roses.

They then traveled to Lorman Bicentennial Park near the Rock River to film a presentation, revealing who they were going to surprise.

A woman in the park saw the sign announcing Paul Casey had won $30,000. “Here’s Paul. Right here,” she said, pointing to a man she was standing next to as everyone laughed.

After a short drive across town to Casey’s home, they rang the buzzer and said there was a delivery.

When Casey came to the front door of his apartment building, he wondered who was ringing his buzzer at this time of day.

Then he saw the Prize Patrol who had balloons.

“I still can’t believe it,” he said.

This is the first time Casey never has won something from Publishers Clearing House. Each week the Prize Patrol travels somewhere in the United States to deliver the good news in person, and on camera. Not only does Publishers Clearing House have its own camera crew, but Channel 3 from Madison also stopped by.

Casey said he was waiting to meet Lam some day who has been traveling the country handing out the money for the past 11 years.

Dave Maurer, a friend of Casey’s, came out in front of the building to congratulate him.

“Way to go man,” he said, as the two fist-bumped.

Maurer said he never thought people winning money like this was real.

The 63-year-old Casey said he still planned to go to work Friday afternoon at a car wash he works at part-time. But didn’t have any plans for an evening dinner.

Howie Guja, a member of the Patrol, said they never inform the person that they are coming or have won. If that person is not home, they try to track them down at work or wherever they might be.

At one surprise, Guja said a brother of the winner didn’t believe they really were from Publishers Clearing House and the man called the cops. Police in other surprises even have helped find the location of winners.

Founded in 1953 by Harold and LuEsther Mertz, Publisher’s Clearing House is a multi-magazine subscription agency that is now an interactive media company offering a broad range of products, digital entertainment and services.

It offers free games to play online and sweepstakes. It have about 10 million visits to its website each month.

Publishers Clearing House has awarded nearly a half-billion dollars in prizes over the years.

Winners are selected at random and the Prize Patrol members like Bianca Quinnonez, who is in training, come to a community to deliver the prize. They also get to check out the local food.

Casey said he plays games online for Publisher’s Clearing House each day. But he never thought he would win, but he never quit.

“I tried to get to the next round. I kept entering,” he said.

“You can win, but you got to keep going. Don’t stop. You’re gonna win.”

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