Do People Really Win Sweepstakes?

8 Examples of People Just Like You Who Won Major Prizes

Do people really win sweepstakes? The answer is a resounding yes. People win prizes every day, from life-changing prizes like a new car or a new home, to fun prizes like tickets to a basketball game, a dinner out, or a brand new Apple iPad.

Why don't you hear about more winners? Probably because you don't know many people who put the time into entering regularly. The odds of winning if you enter a couple of dozen sweepstakes daily are dramatically different from the odds of winning if you only drop and entry into a giveaway now and then.

Nevertheless, a lot of people think no one ever wins. To show you that's just not true, here are real winning stories from people just like you who won fantastic prizes.

Don Cruz Won the 2005 HGTV Dream Home

Cruz family during Money Magazine photo shoot at the 2005 HGTV Dream Home.
Cruz family during Money Magazine photo shoot at the 2005 HGTV Dream Home. Image © Don Cruz, used with permission.

If you've ever wondered about who really wins the stunning HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes, read my interview with Don Cruz.

Don Cruz won the 2005 HGTV Dream Home in Lake Tyler, Texas. It really was Don's dream home, and he and his family moved into the sprawling mansion and kept it for three years.

Eventually, Don and his family sold the home, but this interview shows just what a positive experience winning this huge prize was for him.

Natalie Bostelman, Publishers Clearing House Millionaire

Image of a PCH winner receiving her prize.
Publisher's Clearing House awards a million-dollar prize on February 25, 2010. Pictured: Dave Sayer, Marilyn Ragin, Natalie Bostelman and Danielle Bertellotti. Image © Publishers Clearing House, used with permission.

People across the United States enter to win the PCH SuperPrize drawing. In fact, so many people enter that the odds of winning are about on par with the odds of winning a Powerball Jackpot. But that doesn't mean that no one really wins.

I interviewed Natalie Bostelman, who became an instant millionaire with Publishers Clearing House in 2008. Not only did she win a million-dollar prize, but she also became a PCH ambassador and was able to share the joy of telling other people they'd won, too. Read her story.

McDonald's Monopoly Winner Michele B.'s Story

Michele B. $100,000 McDonald's Monopoly Winner 2008
Michele B. $100,000 McDonald's Monopoly Winner 2008. Image © McDonald's, Used with Permission

When you walk into a McDonald's restaurant, you're usually hoping to leave with a burger or some crispy fries. But Michele B. of Beaumont, Texas received much ​more from McDonald's in 2008 -- a game code for the McDonald's Monopoly Sweepstakes that ended up being worth $100,000! Read how she did it.

Kyria Henry Won $100,000 to Expand the Paws4People Project

Photo of Contest Winner Kyria Henry with a Paws4Vets Dog.
Kyria Henry, winner of the 2010 Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest. Image © Joan Brady, used with permission.

At 12 years old, Kyria Henry started a charitable organization called Paws4People, which trains assistance dogs (and assistance dog trainers) to help kids and vets with physical, neurological, and psychological problems.

Her passion for helping others made her the $128,000 winner in Ikea's 2010 Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest.

Charl Won an Unforgettable Egyptian Vacation

Charl and her husband enjoy a trip to Egypt that they won from Dr. Pepper and Expedia.
Charl and her husband enjoy a trip to Egypt that they won from Dr. Pepper and Expedia. Image © Charl and her husband, used with permission

Charl wasn't very interested in sweepstakes when she entered an under-the-cap promotion from Dr. Pepper. Little did she know that something she did in a moment of boredom would result in a life-changing trip to Egypt. Now Charl is hooked on sweepstakes and enters regularly. 

Carol Earheart Shares her Amazing Vacation Prize Win - A Trip to Texas

Illuminated cafes of San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Carol Earheart didn't think very much of vacation sweepstakes... until she won an amazing trip for two to San Antonio, Texas. She and a girlfriend dined in style at Ruth Chris Steakhouse, strolled the Riverwalk, and enjoyed a day at the spa. 

Suzy Tells Us About Winning Tickets to a Pajama Party with Madonna

The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Backstage And Audience
WireImage / Getty Images

Suzy won a once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend a private party with pop star Madonna as well as other celebrities like Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame and Baywatch Babe Nicole Eggert. All she did to win was call her local radio station when they announced a contest. Here's her story:

"There was a contest going on at a local radio station. The prize was to go to Madonna's "Pajama Party" at Webster Hall in NYC. According to the radio station, you had to be the "10th" caller and I was!! I asked a friend of mine to go with me (Scott), as I know that he loves Madonna as much as I do. This party was for the release of her album, "Bedtime Stories."

I couldn't believe I won, as I only phoned the radio station about three times. When I finally got through, the DJ announced that I was the 10th caller and I won tickets to go to NYC.

Madonna's Pajama Party was not open to the public, only to contest winners and other celebs. I saw Nicole Eggert (Baywatch) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy).

The party was telecast live on MTV that evening and Madonna wore a beautiful, blue, long nightgown with gorgeous heels. We were asked to wear pajamas and NOT to bring cameras. I went to Victoria Secret a few days before going to NYC to buy satin pajamas and a matching robe. My friend just wore the typical striped male PJs.

We stayed at Webster Hall until 4 am. Scott and I happened to be standing around near the exit when all of a sudden, Madonna's bodyguards yelled for everyone to back up... Then I saw her. Madonna was exiting Webster Hall. I was only 5 feet away from her, and she is so tiny! She's not tall at all. She was so thin, blonde, and short! She didn't smile while leaving, in fact, to me, she looked tired, like the rest of us.

It was an evening I will never forget. I have called this radio station for other giveaways, but haven't gotten that lucky since.

This was the best contest I ever won!!!"

Liz Shares How a Sweepstakes Win Convinced Her to Become a Sweeper

Magic Kingdom's Main Street in the Rain
J. Andruckow / Getty Images

Liz threw a couple of entries into a local sweepstakes to see what would happen - and she won! That win led to another, and another, and soon Liz was hooked on sweeping! She wrote:

"Along with family and friends telling me I was lucky, I started to believe it myself. So, I ran across a newsletter to subscribe to on the internet that published sweepstakes. I subscribed, and haven't looked back since. I've won...

  • 2 trips to SeaWorld (Orlando)
  • trips to Disneyland and Disney World
  • a trip to Hong Kong (through Turning Leaf Vineyards) in which we requested cash instead due to the incidences of American kidnappings overseas at that time-(we received $12,500.00)
  • trips to NASCAR events (Talladega - from Arby's Roast Beef) and Fort Worth Budweiser 500 (Budweiser).
  • a car from 7-Eleven
  • a trip to London from a local radio station
  • a $7,500.00 Polaris ATV from Lowe's Building Supply (which we sold it to the dealer assigned to deliver it for $5,000.00)

and much more."

The secret to her success?

"The attitude of expecting to win is what I think helps it happen. Expect to win, expect to receive that special affidavit in the mail or from UPS/FedEX, and someday, soon, it will happen."

Alex Rubin Won a New Pontiac

Alex Rubin told his story of winning a new car:

I won a car from the Pontiac 2005 Pick Your Performance Machine Sweepstakes. Basically, I won a $37,000 allowance to purchase any Pontiac 2006 vehicle.

I entered the sweepstakes by internet, it was a one-time entry sweepstakes sponsored by General Motors Corp.

A representative from a fulfillment agency called me when I was at work: "Alex Rubin, You’ve won a Pontiac sweepstakes."

"What exactly have I won?" I asked, because I couldn't remember every sweepstakes form I filled out.

"You've won a car. Any Pontiac car of your choice." I became speechless for a second. The representative continued: "but you may refuse to accept the prize if you don’t want it..."

"No! No! I accept it!" I answered.

My first feeling about my win was: "Yes! I've finally proved that big wins are possible. I was spending at least an hour every day just filling out sweepstakes and my loved ones were thinking I was just wasting time. Now they would change their minds."

I decided to select the Pontiac G6 Convertible GTP. This car was not available for sale at dealerships yet. So, after about two months of waiting, I finally got it."

How to Avoid Scams

Alii Drive in the town of Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Sam Antonio Photography / Getty Images

As you can see, people really do win sweepstakes prizes, including cars, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, vacations, and much more. However, it's important to keep in mind that there are people out there who will prey on your dreams of winning. Here are some articles that will help you avoid falling for sweepstakes scams:

Tips For Winning Contests

If you avoid contests of skill because you feel you have no chance of winning, you could be robbing yourself of some great prizes. Contests are some of the best sweepstakes to enter because relatively few people bother to enter them. Nancy has won several contests, and she shares her tips here.