Phoenix resident and teacher Michelle Willis was the grand-prize winner of Mars Snackfood’s Halloween Million Contest, the company said this week.
M&M’S characters visited Willis and her family at home this week to deliver an oversized check for the $1 million winnings from the online contest.
Belle, the family’s Chihuahua mix, also benefited from the winnings. Willis learned of the “sweet winnings” in mid-November, the day her veterinarian told her a fast-growing tumor on Belle needed to be removed by a surgeon.
“Belle is my best friend, and we were so worried about how we were going to cover the cost of the surgery,” said Willis, adding that it’s been difficult making ends meet lately, especially with a college student in the household.
“When we got home from meeting with the vet, there was a FedEx letter saying that I had won the contest,” Willis said. “I couldn’t believe it was true, so I called my daughters into the room so they could read it too. The operation was weighing so heavily on my mind that this news was perfect timing.”
For the sweepstakes, consumers visited HalloweenMillion.com, where they keyed in their birthdates to show they were at least 13 years old. Consumers then entered a UPC code on participating products from brands including M&M’s, MILKY WAY, SNICKERS, SKITTLES, STARBURST, 3 MUSKETEERS and TWIX.
There were other prizes beyond the $1 million grand prize, including product coupons for up to $1,000 M&M’s-branded VISA debit cards.
Willis played the Halloween Million online game by entering UPC codes from M&M’s Milk Chocolate Candies.
“I thought it was a fun and intriguing game,” said Willis, a kindergarten teacher. “I loved the haunted house theme and going into the different rooms in the house. I played it around 20 or 25 times because I won two packages of M&M’s and wanted to win more. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win the grand prize.”
Willis said winning the contest has taken away the everyday stress and strain of trying to make ends meet, and she anticipates their lives will change in phenomenal ways.
Paying for Belle’s surgery has been the most meaningful so far. Her husband is also a teacher, and they have two daughters in high school and college.
“Belle’s surgery is over, the tumor was non-cancerous, and she is as good as new,” said Willis. “This is an amazing blessing for my family. I will be forever grateful and think about this every time I eat M&M’s.”