HGTV Dream Home's Loophole: The High Cost of Boosting Your Odds

Unlimited Entries by Mail Add a Price to Free Sweepstakes Entries

Young woman writing a valentine card - top view
Postal Mail Can Give You Extra Entries, but at a Cost. Alexandra Iakovleva / Getty Images

Everyone wants to find ways to improve their chances of winning a big giveaway like the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes. So when Inquisitr published an article titled, "HGTV Dream Home 2014: Contest Loophole Allows For Unlimited Entries," a lot of people paid attention, hoping to learn a secret that would help them win.

However, the headline doesn't live up to its promises. The "loophole" is simply an alternate entry method that HGTV has offered for years. Furthermore, using it (or at least over-using it) isn't a great deal for entrants.

Note that the Inquisitr article deals specifically with the 2014 giveaway, but the information is valid for all of HGTV's Dream Home giveaways.

What's the HGTV Dream Home "Loophole"?

While the Inquisitr promises "a potentially game-changing loophole," all they're actually talking about is using an AMOE to send in entries by mail.

Until 2020, the Dream Home Sweepstakes offered a way around their sweepstakes entry restrictions: they let people enter twice per day online, but they could send in as many entries as they wanted through the postal service.

In 2020 and 2021, HGTV changed their Dream Home rules to make entries available only online. However, the rules might change again, or other giveaways might offer unlimited entry by mail, so it's still worth considering whether sending entries by mail is worthwhile for you.

In theory, this meant that you can stack the odds in your favor by sending in a ton of entries. However, that didn't mean there was a loophole that would give you great odds of winning.

It's true that you could use the mail-in entry method to send in as many entries as you like, but it's not a game-changer. And entering sweepstakes online and by mail increases your risk because you're introducing a financial component to a free giveaway.

This "Loophole" Has a Cost

While it's true that you can improve your chances of winning the Dream Home if you send in unlimited entries by mail, you have to consider that, unlike online entries, there's a cost to mail-in entries.

Unless you had enough foresight to buy a Forever Stamp at a lower price, each mail-in entry will cost you $0.55 for the stamp, plus a little more for the envelope and for the paper you write your entry on. So if you're planning on boosting your number of entries dramatically, you're talking about $0.60 or more for each additional chance.

And that doesn't even consider the time you'll spend entering by mail. The HGTV Dream Home's mail-in entries have to be hand-written, so each entry takes valuable time that you could spend entering other giveaways or doing other things. 

Do the Math Regarding Your Chances of Winning

Getting more legitimate entries always helps to improve your odds of winning, but when you're talking about big giveaways with lots of entries, the boost to your odds may not be significant.

The odds are long, no matter what you do. 2021 Dream Home winner Jeff Yanes's entry was chosen from among 136 million entries. And that winning entry? It was made online. When entering costs you money, you have to take a hard look at the payoff.

If you take advantage of the Dream Home Sweepstakes's free online entries, you can get a maximum of about 100 entries (this can vary from year to year, depending on how long the entry period is). Just to double your entries by taking advantage of the mail-in option will cost you $60 in postage alone. And that brings your odds up to... 200 in 136 million, or about 675,000 to one. Ugh.

That's a lot of money for a prize with such long odds of winning.

Would you bet a friend $60 that you could pick a random number between 1 and 675,000? You'd be better off keeping that $60 in your pocket. Plus, just about every year, more HGTV Dream Home winners face more competition than the year before.

By entering every day online, you bring your odds of winning from "impossible" to one in 1.36 million. Not great, but if you lose, you haven't lost anything except the brief time it takes to fill out and submit an entry form.

By paying around $60, you only increase those chances from one in 135,000,000 to one in 675,000. And if you lose, which is realistically the most likely outcome, you're out the $60.

So is the chance to send in mail-in entries a "loophole... that can dramatically increase the chances of winning" as Inquisitr states? The increase is not that dramatic, and the cost is pretty steep.

If you want to, you can go ahead and use the mail-in entries, too. You never know which entry will win, so you could send in a single mail-in entry, a dozen, or more. If you find it fun and you don't mind losing the money, go for it.

But however you decide to enter, make sure you're maximizing your free online entries so you have the deck stacked as much as possible in your favor, without costing you a cent.