Contests vs. Sweepstakes

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Everybody in the game knows that instant win sweepstakes are tons of fun because you have immediate gratification if you’re a winner. That’s what makes instant win sweepstakes the most popular kind of sweeps of all.

Some people use the words “sweepstakes” and “contest” interchangeably as if they were the same thing, but this is wrong. Sweepstakes and contests are not the same thing, and the odds are actually better if you enter contests. I’ll explain why entering contests can pay off big if you have some kind of skill.

This is because a sweepstakes drawing is strictly random; you are one of many contestants competing for the same prize (or prizes), and the lucky winner wins by chance. The odds depend strictly on how many people have entered and followed the rules.

Contests are another matter. The difference between sweepstakes and contests is you have to actually do something in order to qualify for a contest. If you like to take pictures, videos, write essays, cook, make music… almost any kind of skill imaginable can qualify you for the thousands of legitimate contests out there.

More and more I am seeing contests for videos that feature sponsors’ products, and the award goes to the winner of the best one. The prizes for top videos tend to be very large cash prizes, and winners videos are sometimes used by sponsors to sell their product. Prizes in the range of $10,000 to $50,000 is fairly typical of video contests sponsored by large companies, so getting in the game can be fun and very, very lucrative. Your masterpiece may also be subjected to public vote, so if you have a roster of friends who will participate, you could win a very large prize by making a quality entry to this type of contest.

Don’t worry about paying an entry fee if you want to try entering contests. As with sweepstakes, entering a contest is 100% free according to FTC law — the sponsors are not allowed to charge you anything to enter. And because entry requires a skill and are simply more trouble to enter, the odds are far better.

And here’s a little secret about entering contests: Although they require you to do some work to enter, only some of the contest entries are formally judged. If you read the rules carefully, you may find out that the draw is totally random, even though you had to enter with a recipe, or whatever they asked for. It’s not always in the best interest of the sponsor to spend hours judging entries, or to hire a staff who will, so they just don’t do it.

The majority of contests do employ a panel of judges to rate the quality of the entries, and will award the prize to the best one. “Best” is of course subjective, so if you have a talent of any kind at all, try your hand out at entering contests to better increase your odds of winning.

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