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Price is Right contestant arrives on expense-paid visit to New Westminster

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When Phillip Fitzpatrick overbid and lost out on a trip to New Westminster on The Price is Right, he figured he would never get to visit the Royal City.

But days after the episode aired, he learned Tourism New Westminster was looking for him. It had launched the online #SearchForPhillip campaign, hoping to find the contestant to offer him the same trip he lost on the gameshow.

"Its unprecedented," said Fitzpatrick, who is from Arizona. "I actually emailed the Price is Right people because I was trying to find out if this offer is legitimate. They said, 'We have never, ever heard of this happening.'"

Once he confirmed the offer was legit, the 64-year-old jumped at the opportunity to spend five days enjoying the sights and sounds of New Westminster. He arrived to a welcome party at the Inn at the Quay hotel on Tuesday night.

"I'm retired now, so I was able to have flexible schedule to be able to come fairly quickly, as soon we got all the details worked out. This is great. I couldn't imagine being any better," said Fitzpatrick. "I had no idea any of this would happen, and it's just been so much better than if I had won, actually."

Many local businesses and dignitaries have stepped forward offering to host Fitzpatrick while he's in town.

"All the community, the businesses, the residents, everyone is just so happy to have Phillip here, and to be able to show him what we have in town," said Gerardo Corro from Tourism New Westminster.

On his first full day, Fitzpatrick visited the New Westminster archives, sampled some beers at a local brewery and enjoyed a trip aboard a police boat on the Fraser River.

"We are a city full of history, and we like to call ourselves the city where stories are made, and this is the perfect example," said Corro. "We are having this huge story about someone who found out about New Westminster through a TV show, and he's now getting the prize to come here and enjoy it."

The co-founder of Peak Communicators, Alyn Edwards, says it was brilliant move by Tourism New Westminster to turn the online mocking over Fitzpatrick overestimating the cost of the trip on The Price is Right into a marketing opportunity.

"They have created Phillip fever, and it's pretty amazing," Edwards said. "Philip is a celebrity now in New Westminster, and he is now the unofficial ambassador for New Westminster, and they created that with a publicity stunt. Well done."

While Fitzpatrick will visit Vancouver, he'll spend most of his time in New Westminster.

"Lunch with the mayor on Friday, that's going to be very cool," he said. "I'm very honoured very flattered by all of this. I never thought that losing on The Price is Right could turn out to be such a blessing."

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