– Cameron Wallace is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a leading tailgate supplier.
The story of Michelle Wilgus has been told several times around the country, and in case you haven’t yet heard, Michelle is the lucky winner of NBC’s Sunday Night Football Ultimate Fan contest! I first heard of Michelle and the contest in a group I was apart of on Facebook, and even helped vote! I was drawn in by the story and all the people coming together to vote for this amazing woman to go to the Super Bowl.
It was no surprise to us in the group when Michelle was named the winner. After weeks of voting, we knew our girl would make it through. I sat down with Michelle (over Facebook, of course) and asked for an interview on her big win. She enthusiastically agreed and answered all my questions in great detail. I didn’t want to take away from her hard work in her words. So without further ado, the behind the story with Michelle Wilgus.
CW: Did you put your name in, or was it someone else?
MW:I entered my own entry. I was a fan of Sunday Night Footballs FB page, and saw the contest and entered it. Every superbowl contest I see I enter and have been for the last 10 years. This is the 1st one I have ever been a finalist and have won.
CW:How long was the contest going?
MW:When the contest started they picked a weekly finalist for 14 weeks. I was the 2nd week winner so I was fortunate enough to have a lot of time to plan how I was going to win. After the 14 weeks was over and all finalist were picked it came down to online voting for 18 days. The person with the most votes won!
CW:How did you put your name out there to get people to vote?
MW:About 3 weeks after I won, I started contacting several police departments, police unions, and pension boards in the country telling them my story, and if they were interested in voting for me, to reply w/ there e-mail and I would send them a reminder when voting started. I sent out hundreds of e-mails thru out the contest daily, to remind them to vote w/ the link attached. I just used google to locate different departments and most of there e-mails were on the department website.
The rrstar (local paper) ran a story (Get to Know Me) about me 3 weeks before the contest w/ my e-mail attached if people wanted to vote. Also, sent them a daily reminder. Through that a local person saw it, who is starting a social network business and started blogging about me and how the power of social networking WORKS!
My FB page was originally just friends and family. I knew that they would all vote, but w/ this being a National competition I decided to open it up because my friends and family wouldn’t be enough to win. Friends suggested I friend request a Packer Season ticket holder who is from my community that had lots of Packer connections. I did, and that’s where all the Packer friends came from. People started adding me to groups. I went from 289 friends to over 2000 in just a few weeks.
When the contest started my local NBC affiliate picked up the story and ran it. I made three local radio spots by just asking and posting on there FB page and being persistent.
A law enforcement based web site (policeone.com) picked up my news interview after me e-mailing it to them because I was in uniform when they interviewed me, and they posted it on there website and FB page, plus put it in there e-news letter which was e-mailed to over 100,000 police officers.
I tweeted the Green Bay Packers and the players and the Packers tweeted about me. I was surprised because that only took one tweet!
I ended up getting engaged on Christmas Day during Sunday Night Football at the Bears/Packers game in Lambeau. My friend e-mailed a connection she had at the local paper and they published that along w/ the contest again. Then the news (WREX) heard about it and did another story about that. I wasn’t trying to make the contest about my engagement because I didn’t want people to think we were doing it for more votes. He knew I wanted to be proposed to at Lambeau, so he jumped on the opportunity since we were going to be there, it being Christmas Day and him being a Bears fan it made him feel a little better being in a opposing team stadium. But, since both the stories were connected they ran w/ it and I got publicity about both. I then posted the engagement photo on the Packers FB page and they reposted it for all to see and I got another recognition along w/ info on the contest.
I ended up w/ a FB friend (whom I didn’t know) who ran a National web based radio sports show and saw my post about it in a Packers group and asked if I would call in. (Sportzrantz.com)
Another friend I had (didn’t know) runs a Packers based blog and asked if she could write about me as well.
I put flyers all over town in heavily populated spots, such as bowling alleys, gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants 2 weeks before it started for people to write there e-mail addresses on if they were interested in voting. I also e-mailed the same flyer to friends I had in different states who put them up in there workplaces to collect e-mail addresses. I sent everyone who signed up a daily reminder w/ the link to vote. I had to set up 3 different e-mail accounts so I wasn’t considered a spammer!
I probably had a little more advantage because I did win early on, but honestly I had several friends and family that were helping send e-mails and posting and collecting flyers, and entering the e-mails into the contact section for me, so it didn’t take to much time.
I created a Public Event on Facebook telling people about it, and had over 900 people committing to vote.
I worked really hard as you can see, and it payed off! I just knew I had to make as many connections as I could in a short amount of time, and I used e-mail, FB, and twitter as a HUGE advantage!
I have met some wonderful people, that even though we haven’t met I consider a true friendship has been made!
CW: Your man proposed to you at the Bears-Packers game… which is like every Packers fangirl’s DREAM!!! How exactly did he do it?
MW:He always knew I wanted to be proposed to at Lambeau, I told him I don’t care how you do it, just do it there, please!! He is a Bears fan so his response was “Are you kidding me, how about Soldier Field when the Bears play the Packers there?”, my response “NO WAY!!!”
When I became a finalist in the contest I told him I would actually make a exception to my rule and he could do it at the Superbowl, even though it would be at Lucas Oil, it’s the Superbowl, don’t know to many people who can say I got engaged at the Superbowl.
So Christmas Day comes we have tickets to our rivals at Lambeau. The contest was going on so I was completely wrapped up in that since I was away from a computer. At halftime I was checking my phone to see what the percentages were in the contest, and he pulls out the most beautiful diamond ever, and ask me to spend the rest of my life with him. I was very surprised because I never thought he would do it there. I of course said yes and turned around and yelled “I just got engaged at Lambeau” It was a Packer girl’s dream come true!! He said since it was Christmas Day and the Bear/Packer game and he knew that’s what I wanted he gave in to make me happy!
CW: That has to be the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. I can’t imagine how amazing it was for both of you, due to it being a game between rival teams, and have that happy moment. You guys must love each other very much to not only be that sweet and thoughtful, but to put aside the competitiveness of the sport and the rivalry between your guys’ favorite teams and just lose yourself in a moment like that. You’re a VERY lucky woman indeed Michelle. How did it feel to hear your name called, officially naming you the winner of the contest?
MW:When the contest ended I had 46% of the total votes and the person behind me had 24%. It would appear that I had won based on that, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up until it was official. You don’t know if there were any technicalities in the contest. With that being said and the hope that I won, I decided to have a viewing party on the day they were going to announce the winner. My friends/family/co-workers all got together at a restaurant/bar to begin watching. I wasn’t told if they were going to announce it on t.v. or on there webpage. I was secretly hoping it was on t.v. I was talking amongst some friends and someone yelled my name, and I looked up and saw on National t.v. the picture I submitted for the story. I didn’t hear what they said because everyone was cheering. I jumped up and down with excitement!! When I got home that night I DVRed it so I got to watch it and actually hear them say Congratulations to me and We’ll see you at the Superbowl. I watched it about 10 times over and over to let it all soak in!
CW: What were your first thoughts?
MW:I did it, I did it!!! I’m going to the Superbowl, then thoughts to follow were “Now the Packers have to make it for it to be a double bonus, I hope I get to meet Cris Collinsworth, and I’m going to my 3rd Madonna concert, for FREE!!!!!”
CW:So you’re a Madonna Fan?
MW:HUGE MADONNA FAN!!!!
CW: The Packers being your favorite team, how are you feeling about the Super Bowl now that they’re out?
MW:I was obviously devastated when the Packers lost because how awesome would it be to attend a Superbowl with YOUR TEAM in it. After a couple days I just realized even though it would of been a huge bonus for me to have the Packers there, I am still going to the biggest sporting event in the world and get to see it live. Even though the Packers aren’t there, a fan will be, and I will represent them!
CW:You’re part of various pages on Facebook, and you have a ton of supporters… any shoutouts you’d like to make?
MW:Most of the groups I am in are Packer based groups. Shout-outs go to all the administrators of all the groups I am in for allowing me to post over and over in the groups to get the word out. All the fans in those groups were amazing. They were all very supportive of me during the contest. James Coble and Lori Niesen for taking care of my FB page when I was at the game on Christmas Day, it was pure chaos! Jim Malone and Dennis Mevis for helping the girl they didn’t even know by voting and posting and sharing religiously. The Belvidere Police Department and my Chief for allowing me to take photos and record new clips in my uniform. Mike McElroy and the Belvidere Fire Department for voting continually. The White family for posting flyers from Illinois to Minnesota all the way up to Mayo clinic when they had other medical needs to be concerned with. My family, friends and co-workers for dealing with me while the 18 days of voting was going on!
And there it is, the story of a woman who knew what she wanted and went out to get it. Not only was she able to accomplish her dream of going to the Super Bowl, others around her found a way to not only contribute, but futher their own dreams! Now apart of the group on Facebook “Dream Catchers”, Michelle and others talk about their dreams and we help each other to the best of our abilities.
Soon after I joined and expressed my dream to be a sports writer, I got a email from SportsRantz and it’s CEO Anthony DiMoro asking to see some of my work. A couple weeks later, here I am, doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing!
As often as it is said, dreams do come true. There is a line in Shakesphere’s Twelfth Night that inspires me, and I’d like to share. I think it might shed some light on higher thinking.
“Be not afraid of greatness:
some are born great,
some achieve greatness
and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
(Act II, Scene V)
I believe this means that for greatness to occur, one can sit back and hope that greatness comes to them, yet others may also go out and grab it for themselves! Those who fear to dream will fear to act, and those who fear to act will never achieve greatness. So wheter your dream is as small as getting a job, or as big as going to the Super Bowl, if you work hard at something, there’s no reason you can’t accomplish your dreams!