Inmate not a million dollar winner in M&Ms candy contest

Published: Wednesday, July 12 2000 12:00 a.m. MDT

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — Inmate Brian McCluskey almost found heaven at the Purgatory Correctional Facility. He thought a bag of M&Ms he earned for helping with chores at the jail was a winner in a million-dollar national contest.

But McCluskey was only a first-place winner instead of a grand prize winner, meaning he apparently will receive a coupon for a free 16 oz. bag of M&Ms instead of the $1 million.

A spokeswoman for M&M Mars confirmed Wednesday that another person had been verified as the grand prize winner, meaning if McCluskey does have a winning bag, it's only redeemable for the free candies.

McCluskey is serving a one-year jail sentence for attempted possession of methamphetamine.

The rumor of McCluskey's good fortune spurred a national news frenzy, with Deputy Julie Pugmire appearing on NBC's "Today Show."

Pugmire gave the candy to McCluskey as a reward for helping her pass out commissary items.

When he opened the bag Friday, the 27-year-old found candies that were sky blue, white, purple — colors he'd never seen before. Other inmates told him he might have won M&Ms' "Fix-Up the Mix-Up" contest, which they had seen advertised on television.

Pat D'Amato, a spokeswoman for the candy company, based in Hackettstown, N.J., said a family of four had been verified as the million-dollar winners.

She said they asked not to be identified, even by where they live. They purchased the candies at a Kmart store and plan to use the money to remodel their home and finance their children's' college education.

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