In an embarrassing mix-up that has NBA executives and fans alike livid, Publisher's Clearing House has delivered the LeBron James Sweepstakes prize to the wrong family.
Early this morning, the self-stylized "Prize Patrol" knocked on the door of the Oklahoma City home of Clay Bennett, and presented him with a blank check to give to LeBron James.
While the cameras rolled, Bennett's wife jumped up and down, while Bennett looked at the check with a mystified expression that suggested "does this mean we have to pay the Luxury Tax?" to some observers.
As soon as viewers across the country saw the live feed of the presentation, Publisher's Clearing House (P.C.H.) headquarters, as well as local sports radio, was deluged with angry phone calls - most of the making heavy usage of the word "cheap" and various combinations of expletives. It was widely thought that the Knicks would be the lucky bank-rollers of LeBron
In an attempt to rectify the situation, P.C.H. awarded the Bennetts the consolation prize of Kevin Durant and high-lottery picks for the next five years.
Meanwhile, the confusion continued as it appeared that the New York Knicks might not win the prize after all.
James Dolan, the Knicks owner, lodged a complaint, accusing PCH of fraud. Dolan claimed that not only was he the rightful winner of the sweepstakes, but that he had "bought a bunch of magazines from their stupid catalog, and still didn't receive the $10,000,000 trade exception they had promised if I bought them. Plus, I still get their junk mail at least seven times per month."
PCH points to their legal agreement, which states in part: "There is no guarantee of any prize, even if a team trades half of its players to open up cap space."
Eventually, the check was delivered to the Dolans, who accepted at Madison Square Garden. However, the NBA is currently investigating the handling of the award, saying that it is perhaps premature to award such a prize two years before LeBron becomes a free agent.
And in a separate scandal that is just surfacing, the Washington Wizards are suing P.C.H. for awarding them an extension for Gilbert Arenas, prompting action from other teams, including the 1993-2006 Warriors.
More on this story as it develops.