How To Find Sweepstakes You Can Actually Win


While you have probably heard of “making your own luck,” the odds are good you never thought of that term as applying to sweepstakes winnings. However, if you focus your attention on sweepstakes you can actually win, you may end up getting much luckier than probability suggests you should. If you always wanted to be a successful “sweeper,” a person who enters and wins sweepstakes, then there are a few key insights and behaviors you must know about.

Sweepstakes Luck vs. Strategies

sweepstakes ball

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Winning prizes in sweepstakes can be an issue of luck, but it should be an issue of strategy. Finding and entering sweepstakes you can actually win is a key first step. After all, a lot of the sweepstakes out there, especially online, are not actually intended to give out prizes. Instead, they are designed to generate leads on potential buyers and promote products.

In some cases, presenting a website as a sweepstakes entry when it is really just an information-gathering tool is illegal. Other times, it is deceptive, but the “fine print” keeps the sweepstakes organizers on the safe side of the legality line. For you, as a sweeper, the key is not to spend a lot of time pointing out faux contests but to simply identify sweepstakes you can actually win.

What Makes a Sweepstakes Legal?

To be a true sweepstakes and a sweepstakes you can actually win, the contest you are considering must have certain characteristics:

  • The rules for the sweepstakes must be clearly stated and easy to find
  • The odds of winning should be part of the public disclosure
  • All information about how the winner is selected should be public
  • You should not have to make a purchase
  • You should not have to disclose financial or personal information
  • Information about how the winner’s image and identity for publicity purposes should be disclosed up front
  • There should be details about resolving legal issues clearly posted
  • All eligibility requirements should be easy to find
  • The website should have a clearly stated privacy policy indicating how your entry information could be used

If you want to enter sweepstakes you can actually win, the first step is making sure you are entering sweepstakes that actually offer a prize. Verifying that the contest is legitimate by doing a little background research is a good first step.

Making Your Own Luck

When it comes to making your own luck and finding sweepstakes you can actually win, you should look at sweepstakes where your odds of being lucky are better. That may sound obvious, but most people do not do this research step when they enter sweepstakes and drawings. Instead of working to find sweepstakes you can actually win, they just enter everything and wait for the prizes to roll in, thinking quantity is the key. In reality, quantity plays a big role, but in the reverse of what you might expect.

A classic sweepstake is simply a raffle or drawing. In this case, the way to maximize your odds is to increase your “visibility” in that drawing. You can do this in several ways:

  • Enter contests where there are not likely to be very many participants
  • Enter contests multiple times
  • Enter contests with few participants that allow multiple entries

All of these strategies alone or in combination will make any contest more likely to be sweepstakes you can actually win.

Sweepstakes Tips for Success

Now that you are starting to get an idea of what the potential is when you know how to find sweepstakes you can actually win, we will take a minute to review a few tips for making those contests go your way. Remember, the type of contest that allows everyone to enter and has a huge jackpot is far less likely to go in your favor because there are so many entries. Many sweepstakes winners actually look for relatively smaller prizes and focus on winning more of them.

For example, one professional “sweeper” told the Washington Post she won:

  • Free pizza for a year
  • Two $2,000 shopping sprees
  • A trip to London and a trip to the Winter Olympics
  • Various electronics

All of these things have value, but you should notice none of them were cash prizes. That sweeper emphasized that unless you have a system for converting your winnings to cash, it is unlikely you will actually be able to make a living entering contests, even if you only enter sweepstakes you can actually win.

Winning Physical Drawings

In some cases, you may enter a physical raffle or another type of drawing. These contests are almost always likely to be sweepstakes you can actually win because you can control the process, at least to a limited degree. If you are in a paper drawing or an envelope drawing:

  • Crumple your paper to make it easier for the person doing the drawing to grab
  • Send in your entry in a colorful, large envelope

Look for Contests That Limit Entrants

A contest that qualifies entrants in some way is usually a sweepstake you can actually win because the organizers are limiting the number of people who can enter. This means that the population we talked about earlier, that is competing with you, is already smaller than it might otherwise be. Sweepstakes with fewer competing entries tend to limit entry based on:

  • State or other geographic location 
  • Age of entrant 
  • Gender of entrant
  • Skill set of the entrant, such as making a video or writing a poem

Other signs sweepstakes may not have many entries include:

  • Prizes that are only attractive to certain people
  • A long, annoying entry form, such as a multi-page survey
  • Sweepstakes offered by a new company
  • The contest requires a text to enter

Maximizing Your Odds of Winning

Another way to succeed when you enter sweepstakes is to read the rules and look for ways to maximize your odds of winning. For example, if sweepstakes require you to share your participation online, it is likely someone who gives the company greater visibility will actually be weighted as the favorite when the selection is made. Also, sweepstakes with more than one prize are usually easier to win.

Some sweepers also say that your online “image” is very important since most sweepstakes want to make sure they are giving the award to someone who will be good for their brand. This just means you should keep your public online profiles professional and avoid controversial statements relating to the product or company the sweepstakes promotes. This will help you appeal to sweepstakes organizers selecting winners, especially if the award notes that preference may be given to someone who makes “the best comment” or posts “the best picture,” for example.

Lastly, look for sweepstakes with short entry periods. These chronologically limit the number of entrants and are likely to have smaller populations of people actually sending in submissions since there just is not as much time for potential entrants to take part.

How to Find Sweepstakes You Can Actually Win


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So, how do you find sweepstakes you can actually win? There are actually a number of strategies most sweepers use to keep an eye out for the right contests for them. These strategies include:

  • Setting search alerts for sweepstakes with prizes that the entrant values
  • Making a daily habit of searching for new sweepstakes
  • Staying organized and tracking sweepstakes that recur and have good odds
  • Networking with other sweepers Keeping up with local news and events relating to sweepstakes in your area
  • Reading newsletters written for and by professional sweepers
  • Subscribing to sweepstakes lists that “vet” contests for you and remove those that are not sweepstakes you can actually win

The Big Prizes May Not Be Best

If your main goal is to enter sweepstakes you can actually win, then entering contests with huge prizes is probably not your best bet. Unfortunately, if a house, millions of dollars, or incredibly valuable prizes are part of the mix and there is only one prize in the offering, you are not very likely to win. While you still can “shoot for the stars,” accept that these sweepstakes, while possibly technically offering you a chance at winning, do not give you very realistic odds.

Most sweepers say the best way to stay motivated while you wait on that once-in-a-lifetime win is to enter a lot of smaller contests as well. That way, you will have plenty of smaller prizes rolling in while you keep dreaming big.

You Cannot Win If You Do Not Enter

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge to identify and participate in sweepstakes you can actually win, it is time to get out there! You certainly will never win anything if you do not enter in the first place. Just remember, that legitimate sweepstakes should never ask you for private or financial information or passwords. No matter how attractive the prize or how limited the population of entrants appears to be, identity theft will never be worth a potential prize. Now, use your new knowledge of how to spot the best sweepstakes out there for you to get started winning. You will certainly enjoy being the lucky one in your group of friends.