Sgt. Thomas Perez, you’ve just been punk’d.

The 212th Military Police Company soldier based in Kitzingen, Germany, took home a 42-inch TV worth $3,499 from a Würzburg Post Exchange “Sony Plasma Sweepstakes Event” on Wednesday.

But only after getting the type of phone call that no parent wants to get from a PX manager.

To get Perez to the PX without giving away the surprise, the management called him and said that his oldest son, Eddie, 16, a straight-A student who had never been in trouble, had been caught shoplifting. Perez’s commander, Capt. Ann Dunscomb, was a co-conspirator with the PX staff, said Stan McGhee, Würzburg PX general manager.

“I was furious,” Perez said. “The whole way there I was wondering why my son would do something like that. I was getting more upset as I talked to the manager about it.”

After a few minutes of keeping the gag going, Jack Morris, Army and Air Force Exchange Service Europe senior vice president, showed Perez the big-screen TV he had won.

“He asked me: ‘How would you like to win this?’” Perez said. “I told him I would love to win it, but I was still thinking about my son shoplifting. He asked me if I remembered entering the contest [in early February].

“Then he told me I won the TV. It took awhile to hit me that that was why they called me there. I thought my son was in trouble, and I won the TV. It was a relief that he wasn’t in trouble. They got me good.”

“The surprise and relief was, naturally, total and complete,” McGhee said.

On Thursday, with his mammoth television already at home and plugged in, Perez had no hard feelings about the trick the PX management played on him.

“It’s like a dream,” Perez said. “I’ve always wanted one, but we have six kids, so we could never afford to buy one. I wish we could have won it before the Super Bowl, that would have been great.”

He and his wife, Diana Perez, still can’t believe their luck.

“We have to keep going in the room to see if it’s still there, if we really won it,” he said. “It’s the first thing my wife checked [Thursday] morning.”

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