Airman takes top prize at SSEMC Commissary Sweep

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dylan Nuckolls
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Andres Gomez stood in line to check out at the base Commissary like he had many times before.

But when the 52nd Aerospace Medical Squadron bio-environmental engineering technician waited there Nov. 20, 2014, he did so under unique circumstances.

His mission: to purchase specifically-queued items at a volume with the total cost edging closer and closer to the allotted $360 he received and not spend a penny more than that.

For that one extra cent that could add up in his total might break his chance at winning the ultimate prize of being known as the ultimate pennywise shopper with all bragging rights included.

Gomez, along with four other competitors, participated in the 2014 Commissary Sweep sponsored by the Spangdahlem Spouses and Enlisted Members Club.

The free event required participants to solve riddles, guess the price of a basket of items and gather groceries within a time limit and not exceed that limit based on money earned in the previous rounds.

Rising up to the challenge, Gomez said he was initially worried about the riddle portion of the competition but fortunately counted on his wingmen.

"English is not my first language," he said. "It might take a while when they read the riddle, and it might not click. But I'm so happy my co-workers were there to help."

He also cited his co-workers as beneficial by keeping track of money spent.

The riddles and guessing games ended, giving way to the annual shopping spree. As all the competitors lined up, tension builds in the room not unlike a store about to open on Black Friday.

The countdown commences: three... two...  one... and the shopping carts take off!

The teams race around aisle corners causing their cart tires to squeal, sparing no time to claim the needed groceries before the next team could. 

With the final seconds ticking down, the competitors pulled up to the checkout registers for the calculations to begin.

A single cent could send anyone over the limit - which is ironic as the store rounds change up to the nearest nickel, and there's hardly a copper penny to be found in any register's drawer.

The results tabulated up, and Gomez' tally brings him closest to the metaphorical green - exactly $5.69 under his allowed total.  

The distance between him and his closest rival - exactly seven quarters and four pennies - earned Gomez the title of sweep champion as well as a $150 commissary gift card.

"It felt great," Gomez said. "For an Airman living in the dorms, it's free, and I am excited to win."

Though his fellow competitors didn't take home the first place title, all teams took home the groceries they purchased during the sweep.

And perhaps the Spangdahlem community won, too, as the SSEMC gave back more than $3,000 during the event with funds raised from the Spring Bazaar.
Random shoppers also received gift cards for answering riddles throughout the competition.

"I think the best part is, on behalf of SSEMC, getting to disperse all that money to members of the community," said Andrea Dobler, SSEMC president. "The teams went home with at least $300 in groceries."

For more information on the commissary sweep or upcoming SSEMC programs, visit their Facebook page.