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July 26, 2014

Think it’s impossible to win sweepstakes? You MUST read this!

Clarence Man Wins $250,000 in Tops Contest

Here is the perfect story to inspire you if it's been awhile since you have won anything in a sweepstakes, or if you've been entering giveaways every day for a month with no wins. It's also a pretty good story to read for those of you who are just getting started sweepstaking. Many times, when people start out sweepstaking they think it's impossible to win sweepstakes. If you think that, you MUST read this story!

July 22, 2014

What’s it like to win?

This is probably the question I get asked the most.  The answer, in short,  is that it is GREAT!  I guess you figured that, though, so I will elaborate.
Last year was a really rough year for me.  I was a caregiver to ailing parents and going through a lot of trials and tribulations with it.  It was getting to the point where I was actually seeking out “caregiver counseling” to help with the depression I was feeling due to situations I had absolutely no control over.
After moving in with my parents, after I finished a ton of cleaning out work and setting up paperwork for them and just basically getting things situated, I got bored.  Mind you, while I was taking care of them I wasn’t bored.  I have insomnia and one way I’ve found to deal with it was to learn to get up early.  So from roughly 4:00 a.m. I was awake and raring to go, yet Mom & Dad slept late, REALLY late.  I decided I’d get back into sweepstaking then.
That was probably the best decision I’ve ever made.  It gave me something to do to take my mind off of all of the worry, concern and general depression that came with being a full time caregiver.  It also gave me things to look forward to and my Mom even enjoyed watching for the mailman to come every day.  It gave her a little excitement, too!
One day, I was out in the back yard getting some fresh air and I decided to check my emails on my phone.  In what seemed like flashing neon lettering, I read:  Big news from the Asahi Beer Eat, Drink and Be Lucky Getaway!
So, I stopped, took a deep breath and thought, it couldn’t be!  I had been entering a daily sweepstakes from Asahi Beer for awhile and every day when I’d click the link and their logo would come up, I’d think “Oh, I’d LOVE to win this one!”
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I opened the email and it said:
We’re happy to let you know you’re a winner in the Asahi Beer Eat, Drink and Be Lucky Getaway! You’ve won a trip for four (4) to Las Vegas, NV, which has an approximate retail value of $7,000. Congratulations!
Trip package includes round trip, coach-class air transportation for four (4) from a major airport near winner’s home (determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion) to Las Vegas, NV; two (2) nights’ accommodations at the Cosmopolitan (two rooms, double occupancy); ground transportation to and from airport and hotel; four (4) tickets to the LUCKYRICE Night Market October 5, 2013; and $1,500 spending money; and travel agent services. Winner must travel on October 4, 2013 and return on October 6, 2013 or prize will be forfeited
To confirm your win, please complete a Declaration of Compliance (“Declaration”). The people who will be traveling with you must complete the Travel Companion Liability & Publicity Release. Both forms are available online by clicking here.
Please fully complete the Declaration and return a signed original to the administrator of this promotion. You’ll find the mailing address on top of the Declaration. It must be received within calendar days of this email. If you do not return your Declaration within this timeframe, we will need to draw another winner.
If you are unable to open the Declaration, download Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Adobe website for free.
You will be contacted regarding the fulfillment of your trip within 2-3 weeks after promotion conclusion, once we have received and reviewed your complete Declaration.
Please note that if you choose to accept this prize, you will receive a 1099 form (required for all prizes with a value of $600 or more). You may wish to speak with a tax advisor for further information.
For a complete set of Rules for this promotion, please click here. Please refer to them for any questions you may have.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to reply to this email. Just be sure to keep the original subject line.
Congratulations again and thank you for your participation!
Needless to say, I almost passed out.  My husband and I had JUST been talking about the fact that our favorite band was going to be in Las Vegas the following month and what a shame, even though we have gone to every show they’ve ever done locally, there was no way we’d ever get to see their residency in Vegas.  My brain was spinning at that point, could it be true?  Were we going to be in Vegas the same time our favorite band was going to be in Vegas?
I immediately set forth to do what needed to be done and I bugged the HECK out of the poor travel arrangement guy to make sure I was doing everything I needed to.  He was awesome and so helpful, by the way.  When you win something like this you feel great to begin with, but seriously, the people involved in making these things happen deserve HUGE kudos!  They made me feel like royalty!
Now, you’ll note in the letter informing me of the win, when you win something valued that high, there are a few things you have to do.  One, you have to fill out a declaration or affidavit.  It’s basically a statement accepting the win and acknowledging the fact that you are aware that you are responsible for taxes and will accept a 1099 form.
KEEP THAT IN MIND!  Yes, you DO pay taxes on anything you win.  HOWEVER, you DO NOT pay anyone ANYTHING to accept a prize!  If you get a call or an email informing you that you’ve won something and you need to remit payment for taxes upfront TO THEM, I’m gonna take a wild guess and say it’s a scam.  Another thing to watch for is if you get a win notification for something you never signed up to win, which is why it is VERY important to keep track of what you enter.
Anyway, the plans were all taken care of for us, every little detail and the day before it was time to leave, the sweepstakes planner called me to introduce herself and tell me how to get in touch with her if we needed anything.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to plan such a nice trip myself.  She and the fellow she worked with to make the arrangements were terrific about everything.  Here is a shot of us departing for the trip:
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Not only did we get to have an exciting weekend in Vegas, but the money they gave us to spend got us tickets to see our favorite band the first night there.  It was a really cool, landmark event for my husband, myself and my niece and her friend who accompanied us.
And let me explain something about Luckyrice.  It’s an event to celebrate Asian cuisine and luck, all rolled up in one beautifully orchestrated gathering.  Our sponsor had told me on the telephone that the wish for us was that we’d come to Luckyrice and then “get lucky” in Vegas.  We felt lucky just to be staying at the newest hotel in Vegas.  Oh my, it was gorgeous!  Here is a beautiful shot my hubby took of the hotel’s famous chandolier:
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We don’t gamble.  So, I was almost feeling guilty about that, thinking these awesome folks put together this GREAT prize package for me and here I am, totally not interested in gambling.  Thing is, at Luckyrice all of the wonderful people we met who were involved in the tradition kept telling us things like, “It’s all about getting lucky” and “You will be lucky tonight”.
It was pretty awesome!  Asahi had a special cabana for us to go hang out in private during the event.  They filled gift bags galore and sent us home with so many great gifts.  We got to taste the finest Asian cuisine, sample glorious cocktails and hang out with celebrities like Todd English, a chef I totally admire. Here is a shot of us in front of the Asahi cabana:
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I started feeling like we might have some luck that night when I checked my Twitter.  Apparently, the singer from our favorite band was having a birthday party for his son at a club nearby and invited the public out to join them.  I kept those lucky notions everyone had been instilling in us all evening and after the event, sure enough, we met the singer of the band we’d idolized since we were kids.  Reply if you know who it is standing between me and my husband, who was in complete shock when this happened:
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Anyway, to sum it all up, this was probably the most memorable trip ever, for the two of us.  It came at a time when I seriously needed to get away and have some “live it up” time and we sure were able to, thanks to the wonderful people at Asahi!  And, they were totally right about the luck that night!
Here is one of me hanging out in the city I just adore:
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And finally, the woman we owe so much gratitude to. This is the lady who set everything up. The Asahi people actually are more to us now than just a brand, they are friends and always will hold a special place in our hearts:
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So, in a nutshell, and with a few photos to share, that is what it’s like to win a BIG sweepstakes.  Sometimes it can be even MORE exciting than you think it is going to be!  I’ll be sure to post more stories about some of my other favorite wins, too, so stay tuned!

July 21, 2014

Be Social

One of the most important parts of entering sweepstakes in the “information age” is to be social!  In most cases, the promoters are looking to promote and the more you do to help, the more chances you have to win!
You are going to want to have active profiles on each of the following platforms:  Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  That’s just a start, too.  More and more sweepstakes and contests are popping up on other sites like Tumblr and Instagram, too!  Pretty much, any new social media site that is taking off, sign up and at least check it out.  If it becomes a social media site everyone likes to use, chances are there is going to be a sweepstakes somewhere that uses it.
To give an example of this, when Twitter first started gaining in popularity, I was very comfortable just sharing the sweepstakes I entered on my Facebook profile.  I have tons of friends who like to enter sweepstakes on Facebook, so I figured I really didn’t need to start into the whole Twitter thing.  Even though I’m a tech at heart, I didn’t really want to figure out how to tweet and thought it was probably a waste of time.
Before I knew it, I’m seeing one friend after another bragging about winning sweepstakes they entered via tweeting.  I was missing out.  Needless to say, as much as I hated to dive into learning something new, I tried it out.  I signed up and figured out how to make a profile, how to follow others and thus, got some followers.  Before I knew it, I had my first win via a simple tweet and I LOVED how simple it was, once I learned the whole process.
For now, my personal social media links can be accessed here, feel free to add me, follow me and pin me when you sign up!  That’s a start.  After signing up, be sure to check out how to use each site and actually USE them.  When I have free time, I always try to “retweet” something interesting (other than sweepstakes) or “repin” a great recipe.  You’ll want active social media sites, so other people will want to be social with you.
Also, be sure to follow people on the sites who have interests similar to your own.  Lots of people will “follow you back” when you’re following them on these kinds of sites.  It’s a great way to make new friends and the best part about it is that a lot of the sweepstakes now a days want you to share on your Facebook, tweet on your Twitter, etc.  If you’re sharing sweepstakes with people who enter sweepstakes it is a lot better than sharing sweepstakes with people who don’t like them at all.

July 20, 2014

Honesty Is Always The Best Policy

In Sweepstaking, you always want to be honest.  It doesn’t hurt to be that way in every aspect of life, but in Sweepstaking, it really is a must.

I’ve heard a lot of discussions over the years about entering with fake information, so that you don’t get a lot of junk mail or spam.  Now, why in the world would you want to do that, considering that a lot of the time, the sponsors automatically send the prize to the address you registered with?  A lot of times, they will contact you by telephone or e-mail you to verify your address, but once you’ve been entering sweepstakes for a long time, you are bound to get a lot of surprises; prizes you didn’t even know you won!  AND, some of them will send an affidavit that you have to sign before you are even deemed the actual winner.  Believe me, you WANT these sponsors to have your correct mailing address!
In regards to junk mail, I don’t get a whole lot of it.  I do get a few things here and there that I didn’t really opt-in for but to be honest, it’s nice getting a lot of mail.  My poor mailman may not think so, but I enjoy having a full mailbox.  Mostly, though, I don’t get a whole lot of junk mail stemming from sweepstakes.  I get a few from the travel oriented ones, but that’s about it.
It is not a bad idea to set up an email address that you use only for sweepstakes.  You will get a lot of emails.  There are some that allow you to opt out from getting their emails, but even on a lot of them I have found that when I opt out, I still get their emails.  It doesn’t really bother me, though.  I check them every day and a lot of the time, I will find alerts about new sweepstakes those companies are running.  There is nothing better than being the first to know about a new contest, so I certainly don’t mind!
Not too long ago, I had someone ask me, “Wouldn’t it be better to enter all false information except the email address?”  No, that wouldn’t be better and to be quite honest, I’m guessing that will disqualify you from the majority of sweeps out there.  On “congratulations” calls I have had the first thing they want to do is to verify the information I gave them on the form I filled out.  I can imagine if there were a spelling error or something minor, they would fix it, but imagine if all of the information was incorrect.  They’d say they were sorry and go on to pull another entry as the winner.  Furthermore, if they don’t have your correct phone number, they can’t call you anyway.
Another thing about honesty is karma.  If you’re not doing your sweepstakes entries in an honest fashion, that’s bound to be giving off bad karma and in this hobby you need good karma.  Keep your karma good and good things will happen!
Lastly, I will pass on something I learned in regards to this.  I moved years ago after I started doing sweepstakes.  A month or so after, I did a Google search for my own name.  I found it on a list of potential winners for a big, big one.  I immediately called the administrator and told them I had moved and they pulled up the entry info based on my email address.  When the gentleman asked me to verify my information,  I told him the old address and said I had moved though.  He apologized and said he wasn’t allowed to accept a different address.  Now, mind you, this was going on like 12 years ago and the main reason was probably that my telephone number changed.  Now if we move, we get to take our telephone numbers with us, thanks to mobile phones, so I’m certain way back then, it just looked suspicious to him.  Also, I’d entered with my nickname as opposed to using my legal name.  The whole thing was a mess and I just got the feeling that the fellow thought I was trying to “pull a fast one”.  The moral was I missed out on a $5000 prize.
Regarding phone calls, if you review the rules, most sweepstakes have a clause about your telephone number being used only to contact you if you are a potential winner.  There have been a couple I’ve entered that stated that you “may” be called for marketing purposes, though.  And they did call.  However, it was only to pitch their service or product and they were extremely polite and weren’t pushy at all.  It’s up to you whether you will get those kinds of calls.  You just have to read the rules.  I’ve entered about a zillion sweepstakes over the years and I’ve had MAYBE seven telemarketing calls and I expected each of them because I read the rules and decided the chance to win the prize was worth a two minute phone call.
Don’t worry about a little junk mail now and then.  Set up a separate email address if you don’t want to deal with thousands of emails in the email account you use for work or personal matters, but don’t use false information because it wont get you anywhere in this hobby.
Most of all, HAPPY SWEEPSTAKING!  And keep an eye out for more tips and strategies right here on Sweepstaking.net!