By Colin Campbell, The Baltimore Sun
7:33 AM EST, February 4, 2014
During a lull in the first quarter of Sunday's Super Bowl, Ellicott City native Raj Suri screamed and looked at his friend Ryan Andersen, who was in tears.
After months of nervous anticipation, the commercial they had submitted for the $1 million Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest was airing for more than 100 million viewers across the country.
"I called my wife, I called my parents," Suri said. "My phone buzzed, literally, every second for about 12 minutes. That's not an exaggeration."
The following day, Andersen went on "Good Morning America," where their commercial, "Doritos Time Machine," was officially named the first-place, $1 million prize-winning commercial.
The two flew to New York last Wednesday, spent the remainder of the week attending Doritos events and then watched the game in the company's suite at MetLife Stadium with the other finalists. Their commercial was the first of two winning Doritos entries that aired; the other played in the fourth quarter.
Since the clip played so early in the game, Suri and Andersen were able to relax and enjoy the halftime show and the rest of the game. (The Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos, 43-8.) But waiting until the following day to find out whether it would beat out the other ad for the $1 million was nerve-wracking, especially since the other one, featuring a kid cowboy lassoing his brother, placed higher in a USA Today ad poll, Suri said.
One day removed from an exciting victory, the feeling is still surreal for Suri.
"I haven't really had time to decompress," he said.
Their commercial, which features Andersen's son duping a neighbor into giving him a bag of Doritos for a turn in a cardboard time machine, took $300 and several hours to produce. Suri, 39, a Centennial High School graduate who now works as a software engineer in Arizona, also produces and acts in commercials and the occasional movie. He and Andersen, a director, met at a local film festival and the two have submitted Doritos contest entries for the past four years.
Suri said the experience had been "really overwhelming, life-changing — just so cool."
He's proud of what they accomplished, especially on such a small budget.
"Our team was small, just a bunch of talented people working hard to make it," he said. "You just kinda think, Doritos gives you that platform to produce this thing as amateurs. …It's kind of incredible when you think about it."
Everyone involved will split the money, though Suri didn't want to go into the exact percentages.
He took a train back to Maryland on Monday and will spend the next few days at his parents' house in Ellicott City until heading back to Arizona.
So, what's next for Suri? Nothing, just yet.
"I've been approached about a few different opportunities, but this has obviously consumed all my time," he said. "I'll take two days to let it sink in — and maybe get some sleep."
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