A woman named as the winner of a $10 million prize in a McDonald's-NBC contest feels she got burned - she was disqualified hours later because her daughter is a McDonald's cashier.
Instead of heading for a vacation in Puerto Rico, Thelma and Charles Bellows are visiting an attorney. A McDonald's spokesman said Saturday the couple apparently misunderstood the rules."It's been two days of no sleep," Bellows said in a telephone interview from his home in Kawkawlin, 120 miles northwest of Detroit. "We were honest about it. For $10 million, we could have given the ticket to someone to claim it. But we were honest."
Mrs. Bellows, 49, was named on national TV Friday morning as the winner in the "McMillions on NBC." She received the winning ticket, which was drawn Thursday, when she bought a meal at a McDonald's restaurant in Auburn, Mich., where one of her six children, Charlene Saunders, works.
The couple spent Friday in Detroit with representatives from McDonald's, taping a commercial that was to air Friday night. They planned to buy a new house and furniture, and take a trip to the Caribbean.
"I just can't believe it," Mrs. Bellows said in a statement Friday. "It's still a dream and it doesn't seem real yet."
At about 6 p.m., the dream fizzled. McDonald's told her she was ineligible. Bellows said they told the contest auditors about their daughter earlier in the day, but were told it didn't matter because she does not live with them.
However, Charles Rubner, vice president at the McDonald's Corp. headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., said the auditors were unaware Mrs. Bellows had a relative working at McDonald's when they verified the winning ticket.
Rubner said the McDonald's rule about employees' families is not a federal or state requirement, but a standard regulation in company contests.