What Not to Do When You Win Big Sweepstakes Prizes

Mistakes to Avoid After Winning Sweepstakes

"Professional" sweepers - people who enter sweepstakes regularly - have a negative image among some sweepstakes sponsors. Why? One of the reasons is that they act jaded about winning instead of being honestly excited. Here are some tips about what NOT to do when you win big sweepstakes prizes, to avoid sounding ungracious.

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Don't Brag About Your Wins

In the sweepstakes documentary, Winning for a Living, one of the sponsors mentions how a winner once bragged about how many cars he or she had already won as if it would impress the sponsor. Instead, it left a bad taste in his mouth. No one wants to hear that they're just another notch in your belt when they're giving away a big (or even, not so big) prize.

Instead, try to make each sponsor feel as if their prize was the best you've ever received. Does that mean you have to lie if you are asked whether you've ever won sweepstakes before? Absolutely not. Just say something like, "I've never won a contest like this one!"

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Don't Slam the Sponsor's Products

Portrait of a businessman in an ice cream parlor
Don't "Thank" the Sponsor by Bad-Mouthing Their Products in Public. Glow Images, Inc / Getty Images

If you enter a lot of sweepstakes, the chances are that you might win a prize from a company that you don't love. When that happens - just keep your negative opinion to yourself. Don't get carried away in the heat of the moment and gush about how much you hate the company.

For example, when HGTV Dream Home Winner Stephanie Dee's husband was asked if he watched HGTV, he said something like, 'Only when Stephanie makes me - but I'm going to watch a lot more now!'​​​ Probably not the ringing endorsement that the sponsor expected after giving away an enormous prize. Something like, "It's for sure my favorite channel now!" would have been more tactful

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Don't Clam Up

Sweepstakes sponsors spend lots of money designing and implementing sweepstakes, all with the goal of getting some great publicity for their company.

Part of that publicity might include being able to use quotes from their winners in press releases and on their websites. That's very hard to do if their winners don't express their excitement about winning. So even if you feel completely overwhelmed, take a deep breath, get your thoughts in order, and try to answer any questions that the sponsor asks you with enthusiasm.

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Don't Haggle over Your Prize

Frustrated couple sitting in car showroom
Even If Your Prize Isn't Perfect, Remember to Show Gratitude. Blend Images/DreamPictures / Getty Images

Few things make you look more ungrateful than trying to haggle for a different prize than the one the sponsor is offering. This includes asking for more time on your trip, a different model car, or a cash option (unless a substitution is offered in the rules).

Many times, a sponsor receives a prize as a donation, offers it in cooperation with another company, has gotten a great deal from a provider, or has already purchased the prize.

Substitutions are usually not possible, and can give the impression that the winner is only looking for more, more, more. If you don't like a prize or can't use it, just graciously decline the prize and let the sponsor pick another winner.

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Don't Forget: Sponsors Are People, Too

Even if you win a prize from a huge company, the chances are high that the promotion was put together by a group of people who are excited about the whole process.

Little things like writing a thank-you note to the sponsors really does make a big difference, and it's much appreciated by the people who decide whether or not to offer more sweepstakes.

You can send a thank-you note by email, if that's how you received your win notification, or as a snail-mail letter to the corporation. If you can, include details like a picture of you with your new car or on your free getaway, or talk about how your win made you feel or who you told first. Make your letter feel personal, and bring a smile to the sponsor's face.