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Miles From Home

Posted on Mar 23, 2016

Were you listening to Virgin 95.3 five years ago? Do you remember when they had the $50,000 song contest? You had to listen for Katy Perry’s song California Girls, and then be caller 95 after the song ended. Do you remember who won?

Here, let me refresh your memory:

Watch THIS video!

That is a behind-the-scenes look at Miles winning $50,000. FIFTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. Can you imagine??

I love watching that video! It’s from when 95.3 was Virgin, Kiah and Tara Jean had the afternoon show, and Kevin Lim worked at 95.3! LOVE IT! It also shows a bit of how these things are run, and the excitement the hosts feel when they get to do these contests. So fun!

So… where is Miles now and how did winning affect his life? Well, let me tell you!

Here is the story in Miles’ own words:

“So, to be honest I didn’t listen to the radio much at the time but I was aware that Virgin Radio was running a contest that was easy as “next time you hear the song California Girls by Katy Perry the 95th caller wins $50,000″. They kept everyone waiting 5 weeks until they finally played the song just after 5pm on November 24, 2010.

I had finished work around the same time but didn’t have the radio on. Around 5:15 I was in my bedroom getting changed for the gym and turned the radio on and heard they had played the song already and they were currently at caller 18, on their way to 95. The phone lines were so jammed that a cell phone couldn’t even get a busy signal, only overloaded error messages. Luckily I had an landline for my office and another for the home (at that time) and those were much more reliable. I continued trying with both phones until around 5:40 when they were at caller 90 on air, that’s when the phone started ringing. I thought I dialed the wrong number, but the display showed it was indeed correct. It rang for almost a full 5 minutes while I listened on air to callers 91, 92, 93, and poor number 94 who they teased a bit into believing she may be the winner (and of course flipped out). Once they hung up from caller 94 they went into a song and within 10 seconds of the song starting they picked up my phone and the rest is history.

What did I do with $50,000? $3,000 went to local charities I support. $3,000 was spent taking 6 of my family to Vegas for my dad’s upcoming birthday, $1,000 was spend shopping, another $500 for an open bar party at my home, and the remaining $42,500 went into starting my own business. Now 4 years after I launched my own tour company I operate international group trips in 6 countries around the world. It’s my dream and I can say I really owe it to winning this radio contest – pretty cool!”

After that initial story, I went on to ask Miles a few more questions. Here’s how that went:

How long did it take to get the money?

I believe it was one week, maybe two. I drove out to pick up the cheque with my friend who was visiting from San Francisco.

Was there a winners’ ceremony?

No ceremony and no giant novelty cheque, but they were all excited to meet the winner and they were all very welcoming and friendly. While I was there they decided to do a quick on-air interview in the control room. (you can hear that interview below)

Did you bring them cake?

LOL! Actually, I have to admit, I don’t think I brought them anything which in hindsight seems like I was a jerk!

Did you quit your job?

I really wasn’t happy at my job but I needed to stay with it for around another 6 months until I was able to leave it.

How far did the money go in the business?

There’s a step that I left out here. I actually took the 42,500 and bought a small condo downtown with the intention of flipping it to turn it into more, and that’s what I did. One year of gutting a condo and rebuilding it and I sold my beautiful condo and moved into a run-down 3-bedroom apartment with 2 other roommates, which was necessary while I used the capital to start my new business.

Did you seek a partner in the business?

Yes, I learned the business I intended to start needed more than what I had, so I brought in a couple investors who assisted with start-up capital to get it off the ground.

Did getting the money improve relationships?

I wouldn’t say it improved relationships. $50,000 is a lot of money and can be life-changing if used properly, but I don’t think it’s enough to really affect relationships in the same way that millions would. That said, being able to get the family together and have a family trip at a time when us kids are grown up and busy – that was a really nice thing to bring us closer.

Did you feel different?

Well, I felt like a celebrity for about a week. Within 48 hours of the win I received 600 text messages, and contacted by an incredible number of people I had either not talked to in many years and many people that I had never met. My name is unique so it’s easy to Google and contact me, so a lot of people did. It was very nice, the vast majority of people just wanted to congratulate me and ask how I did it. 95.3 (Virgin Radio at the time) did a great job of getting people really wrapped up in the contest so many people naturally wanted to know what happened with the winner. The radio station called many times in the next 10 days with silly ways to keep the excitement going for people, and that was fun.

Do you still listen, and did you listen more or less?

My current lifestyle is around 4-5 months of traveling overseas for work but when I’m at home in my home office I’ve got the radio on all day. My music taste is very eclectic though so I usually switch between 4 stations every couple days. However, I think right after the contest I did listen to 95.3 more, and I would have felt guilty if I didn’t!

I actually stopped trying to win radio contests for a long time because I figured it would have been greedy.

What kind of job did you have before you quit?

The job I had before I quit was with a company that furnishes universities. We would sell and install seating and tables to large institutions like UBC and SFU. It was my only job since high school that wasn’t in the tourism industry and it really just wasn’t for me.

Today:

Miles is the co-owner and lead tour guide of Detours Travel www.detourstravel.com, where they do guided international group trips for gay people around the world.

What a lucky guy! And what a great guy!! So nice, so eloquent – what a pleasure to interview! I love it when good things happen to good people.

Winning a large amount of money can really make a difference, depending on the person. It can pay for school, buy you a car so you can get a better job, pay off your bills so you can walk with some pride, or buy you some temporary friends. If you spend it wisely, it truly CAN change the course of your life.

Since this big giveaway, 95.3 has spread the wealth out. Instead of one big chunk, they play $10,000 songs and $15,000 songs. Instead of one winner, there are 3. Or was it 4? I can’t remember. This is nice as it gives more people a chance, and keeps us interested – I would totally lose interest if I had to wait 5 weeks for ONE song to play!

But as you know, I’d still be listening to Zed anyway…