First published in the April 2 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
For anyone who’s ever questioned “if anyone actually wins those things” when it comes to sweepstakes, they might look no further than Glendale resident Carrie Charles.
Charles was gobsmacked to learn she recently won the Omaze Los Angeles dream home worth $4.3 million after she bought entry tickets totaling $22 to the contest following a post on Facebook.
She also has the option to choose the $3 million cash prize instead of the home.
The Omaze team surprised Charles with the news on an uneventful Sunday afternoon when she was expecting an Amazon Fresh order and some paperwork to be dropped off.
“I had gone outside to see if my order had arrived and suddenly there were a lot of people with a lot of confetti and cameras,” she said. “Nothing like this had ever happened to me before, my heart was racing, and I had to keep wondering if it was real… It was awesome.”
Charles won Omaze’s most recent grand prize, a five-bedroom, six-bathroom, 6,000-square-foot home in Tarzana, a new build with a pool and landscaped yard.
The win suddenly opens a whole host of new possibilities for Charles, who grew up in La Crescenta and attended local schools. She currently lives in Montrose in order to care for her elderly mom while also running a business called Buggies on Honolulu Avenue.
Though she’s having trouble choosing between the house or the cash prize option, she knows it’s a nice problem to have. The home is beautiful, added Charles, who has a son and three grandchildren.
“My head is kind of spinning in a million different directions,” she said. “But I’m excited to have these options; it is life-changing.”
Her family and friends are equally excited for her new prospects, she said, laughing that her sister pointedly told her she could foot the family vacation this year at the beach.
Omaze is a for-profit fundraising platform that will give out cars, houses and luxury trips as prizes this year. The L.A.-based company teams up to support national charities with a portion of the winnings. The Dream House sweepstakes raised more than $800,000 in grants for Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that provides home and community repairs to low-income families at no cost. Through the Charities Aid Foundation America, Rebuilding Together will allocate funds to repair 70 homes in the Los Angeles area, the company said.
“Making dreams come true for people like Carrie and the people getting refurbished homes from Rebuilding Together is the ripple effect we strive to create at Omaze,” said Matt Pohlson, Omaze co-founder and CEO. “We try to offer an approach to fundraising that enables more people to get involved and make giving fun and easy.”