“The big print giveth, and the fine print taketh away.”~ Fulton J. Sheen
Earlier this evening I very cautiously read an e-mail from someone that I didn’t recognize right away.
And as I waited for my computer to instantaneously burst into flames, I realized that the e-mail came from a company in which I had entered an online giveaway. It didn’t take me but five seconds to scroll to the bottom of the message and click on the UNSUBSCRIBE button.
And now I suppose, or at least I have the feeling, that since I’ve done that… that I will not be the first prize winner of this particular giveaway.
Some of these giveaways and contests and sweepstakes online really just make me think sometimes. We’ve all grown up with seeing the more popular ones on television. And we’ve also grown up with watching contestant after contestant winning big cash and prizes on game shows.
But let’s go back for a minute to these giveaways before I start talking about television game shows.
Just the other day, I saw that there was a contest to be a part of a local PBS show called “The Daytripper” and it sounded like a lot of fun! But then as I was filling out the online entry form, something caught my eye. It was the CONTEST RULES that was uploaded in a pdf file.
A lot of it made sense. A trip for two people, lodging accommodations and some money for meals. Standard, considering what the prize was considered for.
I really enjoy watching The Daytripper. The host is very funny and he does travel the entire state and see some really awesome things, educates you on some really cool facts and history about the places he visits, and he gets to dive into some really awesome food. It makes me wanna have a travel show of my own!!!
But as I scrolled by all the typical jargon that nobody understands, I noticed two things:
#1- The winner will be contacted via e-mail. Okay, that makes sense. Sounds pretty standard.
#2- The winner will produce a 1099 form for eligibility.
Ummm…. what? WHY?!?!?
It is all part of that small print that everybody knows about, but seems to not pay any attention to.
As I went back to the top of the document and started to re-read everything, my excitement about the contest turned into a huge disappointment. Sure, I’d probably receive transportation to and from wherever the program was going, and I would get to hang out with the people behind the scenes and quite possibly be ON CAMERA for that particular episode. But the contest holders (who is a sponsor of the show) is looking to read over your 1099.
Uhh, NO WAY!
Publisher’s Clearing House is probably one of the largest known sweepstakes companies in existence. Now they have a contest where the winner will win $5,000 a week for the rest of their life!!!
Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?
In a full year, that’s close to a quarter of a million dollars. So I went to the website to check it out and I looked at their RULES page. It explained that the odds of winning the prize of $5,000 a week for the rest of your life were incredibly insane! Almost to the point of being impossible to win. And there were other eligibility factors involved with it, even though there was “no purchase necessary” at all to win.
Throughout my entire lifetime I have wondered about these promotions on television for these kinds of sweepstakes and I often wonder about who are the winners? What kind of people are actually winning these sweepstakes? And where are they now??? It seems like NOBODY wins because there’s no fanfare. Even though during their promotions they show these cardboard checks being held by people. And honestly, I think its all a scam. I think they are all actors. But I could be very wrong.
I’ve gone on and on about how the odds are ridiculous many times before, and so I think I’ll skip that rant.
Game shows however are a different breed and have different types of fine print.
When you are watching your favorite game show and are playing along at home and you think that you would be a great contestant and your family and friends believe that you should audition, there’s a few things that you should keep in mind.
Game show winners are always met up by the IRS when they leave the game show studios. They wait, ready to pounce upon you and your winnings.
If you are the big winner of a game show and you win, let’s say…. $50,000 in CASH… the IRS will be right there when the game show producers are writing out your check. Taxes are super heavy and super high when it comes to game show earnings. So a winner of $50,000 in cash, will actually come home with a check of only a sum of between $15,000 and $25,000. That’s the way the taxes work with game shows.
Also, if you are playing at home, watch the ending credits very closely when an episode of the game show is finishing on television. It will say something to the effect that all contestants that appear must meet the eligibility requirements.
And what does that mean?
Of course, you must know how to play the game. That’s obvious. But you must audition to show that you know how to play the game.
And if you are the winner of some fabulous prizes, such as a new vehicle or a vacation trip somewhere in the world, the contestant MUST pay the taxes on these prizes. If later you show that you are unable to pay the taxes on your winning prizes, then you will give it up to the repo man.
The catch is that it is flashed across the television screen so fast that most people miss it. But since it was flashed on the screen, then the game show producers and those in charge of prizes are not liable.
Do you remember several years ago when Oprah Winfrey gave everyone in her audience a brand new vehicle? Well, the same thing had applied for every single audience member. They had to pay the taxes on it. If you couldn’t, then you did not receive the vehicle. I believe that at the time, the taxes were several thousand dollars. I don’t remember exactly how much. But I did read many years later in an article that some audience members gave back the keys because they were unable to pay the taxes.
Entering contests online is easy to do and a lot of fun. But there are always RULES and there are always requirements in order to be considered the winner. You must take the time to read the pages of the requirements in order to make a better and clearer decision on whether or not to enter. If you can’t fulfill the contest requirements, then you’ve already lost.
Yes, it is tedious and confusing and a lot of it you might not understand. But for the parts that you can understand? Well, it does apply to you and your entry in these contests and giveaways.
Some online contests are actually simple. But you have to watch out for those who are offering much larger winnings and prizes.
I wanted to enter an online giveaway for a tornado chasing tour. Free hotel, food, spending money, and the thrill of being on the chase. Naturally there’s NO GUARANTEE to see a tornado. Nobody can predict that. But the fine print that I read said that you had to find your own way to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma… which is where the chasing tour started.
Another contest was being held by a stand-up comedian to win FREE TICKETS to their show. But when I read the RULES, that’s all you got was the tickets to get in. And the location and date of the show was to be determined by someone else. In this case, the show was to be held in New York City. How in the world is that winning? No hotel, no spending money, no autographs, no “meet and greet” type of scenario, only the tickets for you and a friend.
I surrendered and did not enter either contest. There is no way I would ever be able to get myself there on my own.
And like I said before, who knows who actually wins these things. I personally never hear anything about the winners. I think a lot of these contests and giveaways are a scam. Most of the ones online gather your e-mail address and then start flooding your inbox with crap that you honestly don’t want that has nothing to do with the contest you entered by giving them your e-mail address. Its just another way to drum up interest and business in other ways.
So please, for the love of all things good and holy, READ EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU ENTER!!!! It will save you the effort, the time, and possibly your soul (in a sense) if you actually do read everything and you understand just how the winning process works for each individual contest or giveaway.