Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sweepstakes queen: You need passion, patience

VALRICO — Kathleen Spight is a methodical sweepstakes contestant. There are the morning calls to sweepstakes hotlines. After that, she spends time filling out self-addressed envelopes for contests.

Sheer persistence tilts the odds in her favor, but a little luck doesn't hurt. Whether she's good, lucky or both, Spight has had quite the sweepstakes haul in the past 15 years.

She has won the four "Big C's" of sweepstakes: cash, car, computer and cruise. She has taken home a Harley-Davidson, a Mercedes and a big-screen TV. She has won trips to Aruba, Spain, the Cayman Islands, Las Vegas and the 2006 Super Bowl. Then there's the countless number of smaller prizes: gift certificates, cash and gift baskets.

"I'd like to thank all the local retailers like Publix, Winn-Dixie and Sweetbay for their generosity," Spight says, jokingly comparing herself to an Academy Award winner for all of her effort.

Effort indeed.

Spight starts her morning by calling several sweepstakes phone numbers and following the automated instructions. Like all sweepstakes stalkers, she talks about the bigger contests.

"Pepsi is giving away a Corvette," she says, hesitant to share the information. But she already won a car. She'll let that one slide.

After the phone calls, Spight, a retired school counselor, fills out self-addressed, stamped envelopes. Details are important: Some contests require a specific size postcard, which may or may not meet postal regulations.

Details matter, but the official rules are gospel. When the rules allow a daily entry, hard-core sweepstakes entrants do just that. Some months, Spight spends more than $100 on postage.

It also takes time. A serious sweepstakes entrant may spend five to 15 hours a week entering contests and even more time tracking contests with sweepstakes clubs or on Web sites.

Seniors are the most likely to be sweepstakes hobbyists because they have more free time, says Geri Anne Benning, a partner in Alliance Sweepstakes Services, which manages contests and sweepstakes for large and small companies.

About 17 percent of sweepstakes submissions are repeat entries, she estimates.

That, Spight says, is the difference between those who never win and those who do, often.

So what's Spight's advice?

The best sweepstakes are local, she says, because there's a better chance of winning. Regional and national contests are next best.

"Don't make it more than a hobby," she says. "You'll be miserable. It's a game of chance, and you have to have the passion and patience."

>>fast facts

Got the bug?

Before getting caught up in sweepstakes fever, here are some things to know:

• Sweepstakes are a way to gather market research data, but it's illegal to sell entrants' information. Florida has especially strict sweepstakes rules, requiring companies to be registered and bonded if prizes are over $5,000.

• Never enter a sweepstakes that charges a fee. It's a scam. For other good advice, see www.fraud.org/tips/internet/sweepstakes.htm.

• Stick with major sponsors and established companies to avoid scams. Never give away your Social Security number until you receive a prize affidavit from the sponsor.

Sources: Alliance Sweepstakes Services, Kathleen Spight

Sweepstakes queen: You need passion, patience 09/25/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 28, 2008 1:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa police: 46 arrests, 47 ejections at two-day Sunset Music Festival

    Public Safety

    Times staff

    TAMPA — In a preliminary tally Monday morning, police declared there were "no major incidents" during the two-day Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium but boosted the number of arrests and rejections they provided in earlier reports during the weekend.

    A Tampa Fire Rescue all-terrain vehicle patrols the parking area north of Raymond James Stadum on Sunday, day two of the Sunset Music Festival. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  2. Trump to speak at Arlington cemetery on Memorial Day

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is preparing his first Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they board Air Force One at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Saturda, in Sigonella, Italy. [AP photo]
  3. Two in serious condition after early-morning shooting in Tampa

    Crime

    Two people are in serious condition after a shooting occurred early Monday morning in Tampa, according to the Tampa Police Department.

  4. Wrong-way driver on Courtney Campbell Causeway intercepted by police, faces DUI charge

    Public Safety

    A woman driving in the wrong direction on the Courtney Campbell Causeway early Monday morning was intercepted by Tampa Police officers and faces a DUI charge.

  5. Relative 'devastated' after shooting kills 8 in Mississippi

    Nation

    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — Head in hands, his voice strained, Vincent Mitchell sat outside his little yellow home and tried to make sense of how a family dispute led to a rampage that killed eight people, including the deputy who tried to keep them safe.

    Christianna May-Kelly, center, is supported by family members as she cries after answering reporters questions outside her parents' home in Brookhaven, Miss., Sunday. May-Kelly said her parents and mother were among the people gunned down during a shooting in rural Mississippi Saturday night. [AP photo]