FARGO-Angela Skaff was almost too stunned to speak Sunday, Oct. 30, but she had a good reason-she just won a $500,000 house.

Skaff, a West Fargo resident who works at North Dakota State University, was the big winner of a Designer Homes of Fargo-Moorhead house at Sunday's Giveaway of a Lifetime event at Ramada Plaza & Suites.

She was among the 1,000 hopefuls entered into the contest who packed into the Crystal Ballroom, waiting to hear if they would be one of 30 to get a chance to try out a key on a prop door.

Skaff was the 29th person to try her key, and she was overcome with emotion as soon as the door opened, revealing she had won the Fargo house at 4200 54th Ave. S.

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"I was pretty excited when I got the email about being a finalist, so I just continued to pray for it because if it's for you, it's for you," she said. "This is for me, apparently."

Paying it forward

Robert Leslie, president and owner of Designer Homes, said the event was a way to showcase the craftsmanship of the several companies that contributed work and products to the five-bedroom, three-bathroom house with upscale features. But it's also meant to pay it forward.

"We're very lucky to be able to be in a community like this and have the community support us, so for us, what a cool way to give back to who makes it possible for us to be in business and do what we do," he said.

Designer Homes gave away a house for the first time in 2012, with winner Michele Gilbertson ultimately deciding to sell it. She put the proceeds toward college funds for the children of her sister, who died of pancreatic cancer shortly before she won, and also went on a trip with her surviving sisters, rehabilitated her farmhouse and helped her son pay college bills.

Leslie said before Sunday's giveaway that he hoped the second winner would also put the life-changing prize to good use.

"I just hope it's someone that helps pay it forward," he said.

Immediately after winning, Skaff said she wasn't sure what she would do with the prize. She was sure, however, that she was going to celebrate with friends and call her family in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The giveaway house opened in July, with 800 of the 25,000 or more people who came through the house selected as finalists, according to Leslie. Another 100 people became finalists via social media, while the remaining 100 qualified by attending special events in the community.

Tuesday Boerner was one of the 1,000 initial finalists, and while she said the house was "very beautiful," Boerner and her husband, Gary, planned to sell it if they won.

Nathan Adam also didn't intend to keep the $500,000 house that comes with a roughly $200,000 tax bill.

"Honestly, I would try to sell it and put that money towards building a lake cabin," he said. "I like the house just fine, but I'd rather be at the lake."