Congratulations! You're the one millionth customer of Honest John's Dealership! Or maybe you're the ten thousandth customer of the Malt Shop! Or maybe it's just an ordinary shop in an ordinary mall. Well, either way. YOU are the lucky person that's a milestone of their history—you are their hundredth/thousandth/millionth/billionth customer, and what better way to show their appreciation than to give you this random item?
Expect a shower of confetti and balloons when this occurs, almost as if it was a birthday party. Which it technically is, just for the company.
In reality, for the very very very VERY few places that actually do this, it'll simply be something small like a commemorative pen or badge. In media, however, this item (or series of items) will be something either extravagant or extremely desired—so, the conflict of the episode will sometimes either be resolved by or revolve around this item. Of course, sometimes it's not the item that drives the plot — it's the event itself, especially when its appearance can be a hindrance to the recipient.note
- Zig Zagged a bit in the Mega Man NT Warrior manga. There's a scene where Lan is told he's the one millionth customer of a restaurant, so he won a free helicopter ride as a prize. At this point, he and his friend Chaud are on the run from the government because of MegaMan's new powers, which they fear. Once Lan goes up in the helicopter, he reveals that he knows that this whole "millionth customer" was a sham, and that this is an attempt to kidnap him and draw MegaMan out, but he's willing to do it so that he'll see MegaMan again. Immediately turned around, as he really has won the trip and this is a genuine prize, and the pilot has no idea who Lan is.
- In Pokémon, Ash and Serena have to go to another city to shop for gifts for their Pokémon. On their trip back, Ash becomes the 1 millionth rider on the monorail, and was awarded with a commemorative ribbon.
- In a Peanuts Sunday Strip, Charlie Brown goes to the movie theater because it's offering free candy bars to the first 1,500 children in line. He lets Lucy cut ahead of him... and she, naturally, turns out to be #1,500. This strip was based on a real event that happened to Charles M. Schulz.
- A Running Gag in Archie Comics seems to be that Jughead would always be this whether it's a restaurant or a grocery store. Thanks to Juggie being a Big Eater, chances are those stores would wind up bankrupt at the end of the day. In one story, during which Jughead suffers mishaps due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he and Archie enter a department store when erupts in cheers. Jug being the Umpteenth Customer wins a date with a beauty pageant winner, whereas Archie, as the customer after Jughead, wins one of the more expensive goods. Being a He-Man Woman Hater, Jughead isn't happy with this arrangement—and neither is Archie.
- In a Retail Sunday strip, a store has confetti, balloons and a fanfare for their billionth customer, but...
Customer: Um ... what happens now?
Sales clerk: That'll be $19.95.
- This happens to Gladstone Gander all the time as a manifestation of his outrageous luck. Picture the difference between entering a store and entering a store and being the millionth customer who gets an expensive prize, and you'll know what his life is like.
- In Amazon Women on the Moon, a boy who goes to a drug store to buy condoms (discreetly) for his date not only wins a prize...but becomes their spokesman, much to his horror.
- In How to Marry a Millionaire, a philandering married businessman attempts to drive his would-be paramour into Manhattan, via an out-of-the-way route so that nobody in his social circle will see them. While crossing the George Washington Bridge, the couple are intercepted by a group of motorcycle cops...who led them straight to a waiting crowd of reporters and photographers, ready to publicize them for occupying the five millionth vehicle to cross the bridge.
- In Larceny, Inc., Edward G. Robinson's character gets rid of a customer at the luggage shop he's using as The Convenient Store Next Door by telling him he's the store's millionth customer and can have the bag he wants for free.
- Inverted in A Song For Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay, where every ninth person to enter an inn during the beginning-of-book festival gets thrown in a dunk tank. (Ultimately the joke's on the innkeeper — his regulars filled the dunk tank with his champagne...)
- The Dandee Diamond Mystery: In this interactive book, if the reader/protagonist gives up on the search for the eponymous Diamond, they'll enter a fast food restaurant, become the millionth customer and receive one million dollars and all hamburgers they can eat.
- The Doctor Who episode "Delta and the Bannermen" begins with the TARDIS being the umpteenth vehicle to pass through a hyperspace tollbooth; not only is the toll waived, the Doctor and Mel are awarded free places in an alien tour group going to visit 1950s Earth.
- In Kamen Rider Decade, Tsukasa ends up getting a choice of wife, a modeling job, a gig as a manager, and more simply for being an umpteenth customer. Turns out it was all a plot to make him love the world and stay.
- Parodied in a That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch, in which a group of eccentric businessmen wait for the millionth visitor to their website, only to find that he completely ignored all the banner ads and pop-ups telling him this.
- In Psych, one of the cold opens begin with young Shawn as the one millionth customer of a super market.
- One Supernatural episode involves a rabbit's foot that grants increasingly good luck until it is lost, at which point it grants increasingly bad luck that ends with death. During the good luck run, Sam wins free meals for life at a restaurant. While eating, he loses the foot to a savvy thief. As Sam's luck turns bad, some people are out to kill him—those who can't find him see the press release of his award and know immediately where he is.
- Trigger Happy TV:
- They once set up a "Millionth Customer" extravaganza outside an adult bookstore and surprised one of the unsuspecting chaps leaving the shop. Said customer hauled ass rather quickly after that.
- Another had them set it up outside a public loo. The woman who emerged had a very hard time keeping a straight face while graciously accepting her award and congratulatory bottle of bubbly.
- Another sketch had them set before they entered the shop, saying they had 60 seconds to pick all the groceries they could and take them away for free. Of course by the time they came back everybody had left.
- The Tonight Show: One magician was doing tricks disguised as a supermarket cashier. One of his tricks was to declare someone the millionth customer, then take down a large box with the prize. The box would contain exactly what the customer was purchasing.
- A Laverne & Shirley episode has Laverne becoming a supermarket's one millionth customer and winning a free shopping spree.
- A Dennis the Menace episode revolves around Mr. Wilson attempting to become the 50,000th customer at a drugstore to win a shopping spree. Dennis ends up beating him out, naturally.
- One episode of Newhart had a subplot in which the Inn was one customer away from being a certain-milestone number.
- In the first part of the Married... with Children two-part episode "You Better Shop Around", the Bundys take refuge in the local Foodies supermarket after their cheap air conditioner shorts out power for the entire neighborhood. After being threatened with eviction by the store's owner for loitering, Al cuts in line in front of Marcy in order to buy a stick of gum, surprisingly making him the store's millionth customer and entitling him to a $1,000 shopping spree. Marcy challenges Al's claim since he cut in line, so the owner declares a contest: both the Bundys and the D'Arcys get the shopping spree, but only the first family to finish with $1,000 in groceries gets to keep it.
- Kickin' It: Phil tries to fake this contest by having his sister become the millionth customer at his falafel place but Rudy beats her into becoming the umpteenth customer. Because of the attracted publicity, Phil must let Rudy eat for free. When Phil declares he had enough, Rudy decides to boycott Falafel Phil's and eat at Captain Corndogs', where he also becomes the umpteenth customer and ends up going to a hospital for eating too many corn dogs.
- In the Only Fools and Horses episode "The Longest Night", the Trotters are shopping when they're asked to go to the manager's office. They see a sign saying the millionth customer will get a thousand pounds, and assume that's them. Instead, they're accused of shoplifting. And then held hostage along with the manager and store detective by an armed robber. It eventually transpires that this was all a plot by the manager and detective to take the money, with Del, Rodney and Albert as independent witnesses, but went wrong because the robber's watch (bought from Del) was slow, so he missed the safe's time lock. After everything's been resolved with no harm done as long as the Trotters don't spill the beans, Del suggests to the manager that maybe they will turn out to be the millionth customers after all...
- In one Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, Quark declares Major Kira his "One Millionth Customer" as part of a scheme to scan her image for a custom holoprogram. Prizes include free dabo spins, champagne, and an hour in the holosuite (the scan has to be taken there) that she transfers to an ensign whose birthday is coming up.
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Hardware Store":
And they're doing a promotional stuntThey got a big purple sign out front that saysEvery twenty-seventh customer will get a ball-peen hammer free!
- In Simon the Sorcerer 2, a tattooist gives a free tattoo to his 100th customer. Since your character has no money, you need to talk another character to going first so that you can get the tattoo done free.
- In The Last Story, following a fortune teller's advice to visit a certain shop on your first day in the city will reveal you to be the owner's 1000th customer, netting you your first equipment upgrade on the house.
- Happens in a New Quack City level in Fur Fighters. Where the player enteres a gun store and is given 60 seconds to run around collecting ammo and new weapons.
- The vending machines for Marcus Munitions in the Borderlands series occasionally play with this. One of the randomly selected statements when you buy from one is, "You're my millionth customer! Don't let it go to your head."
- This clip shows prank done at a Dutch shopping center where they parade the 10,000's shoplifter.
- In one episode of Arthur, Arthur picks up a Sci-Fi Shoot 'em Up video game from a store simply for being an umpteenth customer. His life promptly goes down the drain as he struggles with addiction to the game.
- Happens from time to time to Donald Duck's extremely lucky cousin Gladstone.
- In "Doug's Lost Weekend", the eponymous character enters what looks like a video game store and looks around, only to discover that he's the one millionth customer and has won a Super Pretendo. Of course, this was the setup for the episode's Aesop.
- On SpongeBob SquarePants, a customer gets this for giving Mr. Krabs his millionth dollar earned. He gets no prize; he and the others just get thrown out so that Krabs can enjoy the dollar in peace. Krabs does reward his workers, though... with a fishing trip. The guy who gave him the dollar didn't even get his food. Krabs basically stole from him.
- In The Weekenders, Carver orders from the snack vendor and won some prizes for being being the one millionth customer. Tino asks for napkins and end up being the one million and first customer. He won two passes to their favorite band which leads to the episode's plot deciding who to take to the concert.
- In The Simpsons, Homer bought the one millionth ice cream cone resulting in him appearing on Kent Brockman's talk show.
- On Daria, the eponymous character was the 10,000th customer at the Doo Dad Shop, which sells various novelties. She was annoyed by this, because a.) it counted as any sort of attention, and b.) she didn't even want a "Doo Dad," she just got a free coupon.
- This also invites some Fridge Logic, since she was the "10,000th customer" despite it being mentioned that the Mall of the Millennium had only recently opened.
- The Fireman Sam episode "Bronwyn's Millionth Customer" is about Bronwyn preparing for this. And then there's a fire.
- Episode "Lumpus vs. the Volcano" from CampLazlo has Lazlo, Raj, Clam, and Slugman buying a chicken pot pie for Lumpus after Lumpus sacrificed his pie at a volcano. They became the millionth buyer and for their prize, Deputy Doodle Doo has them star in his new commercial.
- A great many pop-up/banner ads on the Internet will say, "Congratulations! You are the one millionth visitor! Click here to claim your prize!" (Protip: don't click these.)