Super Bowl surprise almost trashed

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz -- It started as a suspicious letter and nearly became the focus of 3 On Your Side report. 

When Mary Louise and Jerry Riley received a letter from the NFL a few months ago, Mary Louise first thought,  "I kept saying oh, it's an advertisement; it's just junk. So I tear it open like it's trash.  I didn't nicely open it like things that I know are important. And there was this letter inside."

Jerry read the letter. "We would like to say congratulations as you have been selected to purchase 2 tickets for the Super Bowl." 

Jerry explains, "My immediate impression was this can't be true. When it said, whatever you do, don't contact the NFL, the first thing that comes to my mind, scam. So I said, I'm calling Gary Harper and I did, I immediately called Gary Harper."

Gary who heads up 3TV's 3 On Your Side unit was also suspicious but Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's Senior Vice President of Events told him, " it's completely legitimate, this is something we do every Super Bowl and they are legitimate winners for sure. Each year the NFL does a lottery, where fans can submit their name into a lottery between February 1st and June 1st of that year prior to the super bowl and then we announce in October the fans who are the winner of that lottery and win two tickets to the game."

The Rileys were in disbelief. "We both just about, couldn't believe it. I think our hearts both jumped a beat, you know? It was like, really? Oh gosh, how exciting! I can't wait to call the kids and tell them." 

Turns out, it was Mary Louise's daughter who entered their name. "I mean what are the chances that out of how many thousands of people, millions is more like it, applied for this thing, literally all over the world."

Mary Louise didn't waste a second, "The very next day, we bought them."

The Rileys paid $500 per ticket and they're not planning to sell them. 

 "We have a location on game day on Super Bowl Sunday they will go and be able to identify themselves with their credit card and they'll be printed out for them right on there," O'Reilly explains.

While the Rileys would like to see the Cardinals make it to the Super Bowl, right now, they're still in shock they get to go.

"It was worth calling Gary Harper," the Rileys told us. "Gary's investigative work saved us from throwing away a chance of a lifetime."