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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 1 year ago

Wheel of Fortune Ohio fan moved to Latitude Margaritaville after winning a house

Margaritaville residents: meet your neighbor, Michael Corbett
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Three phone calls brought Michael Corbett to Daytona Beach.

The first call on Nov. 19, 2018, appeared as "unavailable" in his phone. Corbett didn't answer it. He received another one a couple hours later, which he picked up. However, he only gave the representative on the phone from Interactive Solutions enough time to say his name and the word "Wheel" before Corbett hung up.

On the third ring, Corbett finally heard the representative out, and he found out he was the potential winner of a new home in Latitude Margaritaville.

“I don’t think I believed it to begin with," Corbett said. 

A few weeks earlier, Corbett, an avid Wheel of Fortune watcher, had entered the show's "Home Sweet Home" sweepstakes. The show had partnered with Minto Communities and Margaritaville to give away a new $350,000 home. The sweepstake took part around Corbett's birthday.

Vanna White and Pat Sajak at Wheel of Fortune puzzleboard. Photo by Carol Kaelson

“The idea of winning a home in Florida was just crazy, but okay, I’ll enter the sweepstake and see what happens," Corbett recalled. 

After all, his wife Vickie had been wanting to leave the Dayton, Ohio winters for a year. In 2017, she packed up all her belongings and was ready to retire in Florida, leaving shoveling snow in the past.

“There was nothing in her house," Corbett said. "There were no dishes, there was nothing. And my daughter talked her out of it.”

Fast-forward back to that fateful phone call. As Vickie and his daughter were in Thailand, Corbett was in Ohio diligently making sure he wasn't getting scammed. He even called Interative Solutions and asked to speak with the representative who had called him. When they successfully connected him, everything became real. 

Corbett waited until his wife and daughter were back in the U.S. before uttering a word.

“I thought this would be a surprise, for sure," Corbett said.

And a surprise it was. Though they lived in separate houses at the time, Corbett asked her if she ever thought they could live together again.

“And she said, ‘well, I don’t know why not," Corbett recalled. "'We’re good friends. You come over here all the time to have dinner. We’re always doing something together anyways. Why not?”

That's when he told her he had won a house in Margaritaville. 

"You did not," she told him in disbelief.

National exposure 

On Dec. 10, 2018, the Corbetts flew down to Daytona Beach for the first time and visited the Margaritaville sales office, where a luncheon awaited them. The Corbetts were shown around the neighborhood and told which lot was going to be theirs, and what model was going to be built on it — The Breeze from the Beach Collection.

That's a popular model, said Minto Communities President Mike Belmont. 

“The idea of winning a home in Florida was just crazy, but okay, I’ll enter the sweepstake and see what happens."

Michael Corbett, Latitude Margaritaville resident

The partnership between Minto and Wheel of Fortune dates back to shortly after the purchase of the land in Daytona Beach. Belmont said representatives with Wheel of Fortune called, wondering if there was something they could do that would be synergistic to both companies due to their shared similar demographics.

Belmont thought, why not give away a house?

“From our standpoint, it provided so much national exposure and it generated a tremendous amount of leads of those that were proactively interested, and filled out the sweepstake and wanted to get more information," Belmont said.

In the past year and a half,  an estimated 600 people have moved into Margaritaville, which will eventually be built out at around 3,200 homes. With the second sweepstake having taken place the week of Oct. 28-Nov. 1, he's hoping the next lucky winner picks a home in either Daytona or Hilton Head Latitude Margaritaville. Grand prize winners also have the option to select a home in Westlake, Florida, or receive $150,000.

“The whole idea of fun, food and music — it’s all encapsulated in the community,” Belmont said.

A new start

Throughout the home building process, the Corbetts were given regular photo updates. Even though they were almost a thousand miles away, they knew when the foundation was being laid, when the walls were being raised and even when the finishes started being installed. 

Corbett said he never thought he'd actually win. Walking through the house today, it's still "unbelievable."

Vanna White, Pat Sajak, Jimmy Buffett and "Home Sweet Home" winner Michael Corbett at Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach. Photo by Carol Kaelson

“It was just fabulous," Corbett said. "Even coming down in December when we got to tour the model homes, that was way, way different than looking at the pictures on the website.”

Meeting Jimmy Buffet as well as Vanna White and Pat Sajak from Wheel of Fortune to film a segment for this year's sweepstakes was a bonus. 

The Corbetts, along with their Goldendoodle puppy Sophia, have been living in the house since late March, and while they're introverts, having a choice of activities and events has been nice.

“They have good bands," Corbett said. "They have good music. They have good food at the restaurant, and any people that you meet down there are just warm and welcoming. Community wise — it’s awesome.”

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