Each morning letter carrier John Fink starts his day by sorting mail before heading out on his route in downtown's business district.
Fink works out of the Open Air Post Office, one of the last postal facilities in the country dedicated primarily to bicycle delivery.
Assigned to one of 18 bike routes out of that office, Fink spends five hours a day delivering mail from Fifth Street to Second Street N and between First Avenue S and First Avenue N.
While the community around the post office has grown, the bike-riding mail carriers have created their own tight-knit group within the mail room.
"We're like a family. People here with a lot of seniority could have any route in the city, but they prefer to be on bikes," Fink said.
The family in the Open Air Post Office and the National Association of Letter Carriers in Largo were excited but not surprised when Fink won a trip to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. "They call him 'Lucky John,' " said Theresa Bourlon of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
While watching American Idol with a friend, Fink saw a commercial for AT&T's "How Are You Connected" contest.
Well aware of Fink's lucky streak, his friend suggested that he enter the contest. Fink did — 45 days in a row.
Shortly after the completion of the contest, Fink was sent a notification of his success as the seventh of eight winners for the trip to China.
Fink will head to Beijing on Aug. 15 on an adventure with the eight winners and their chosen guests. They will attend a handful of the 2008 Olympic events and visit the Great Wall of China. The prize includes airfare, hotel costs and an $8,000 check for the trip.
Fink said that this is "without a doubt" the largest prize he has ever won, but it's definitely not the first.
He won a trip to Las Vegas through Entertainment Television. He previously won a trip to see Reba McEntire at the Hollywood Bowl, and soon he'll go to New York for the Discover Broadway sweepstakes to see the Tony Award winning show In the Heights.
Fink continues to try his luck.
"I'm a sweepstaker. I put in three hours last night entering sweepstakes," he said.
After 29 years at the post office, his co-workers know of his luck and still get excited every time he wins a new contest.
Fink will be taking his "best buddy," John Connerton, a retiree of the post office.
The letter carrier says he has wanted to experience both China and the Olympics, so this trip will be special.
"It's killing two birds with one stone, getting to see China and seeing the Olympics," Fink said.
Emily Rieman can be reached at (727) 893-8827 or email@example.com.