A VERY happy meal: Former homeless man gets $1 million in McDonald's giveaway

Monday, September 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOLLY HILL, Fla. (AP) _ A former homeless day laborer had a happy meal at a McDonald's over the weekend.

McDonald's corporate managers awarded Patrick Collier with a $1 million prize they said was randomly given out as part of the restaurant chain's effort to restore consumer confidence in its sweepstakes promotions.

Managers approached Collier, 35, and his fiancee, 29-year-old Sandi Fabian, as they sat down just after 10 a.m. on Saturday to have breakfast.

``I thought I had done something wrong, but I was confused when they handed me this certificate telling me I had won a million dollars,'' Collier said.

Collier and Fabian had been frequenting the restaurant for about six weeks and lived across the street in a hotel room they shared with Collier's mother. Just months ago, they were homeless, sleeping on cardboard boxes and earning $50 a day as laborers when they could find work.

McDonald's said the restaurant in Holly Hill, about five miles north of Daytona Beach, was one of five selected at random to distribute five $1 million grand prizes. Fifty people will also be given $100,000 awards during the giveaway.

McDonald's announced the promotion in the wake of an FBI investigation last month, which found that an employee of a marketing company contracted to run McDonald's Monopoly game allegedly stole more than $13 million in winnings.

Nancy Izquierdo, a McDonald's spokeswoman, said team members choose someone to receive the prize without any criteria.

``It's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time,'' she said Sunday.

Collier said he already has super-sized plans for the money.

``I'm getting a Harley,'' Collier said, ``and a couple of houses.''

``And one for me. He always said he'd buy me a house,'' added his mother, Judy LaBounty.