Made in France. Retails for $100. Not too Shabby

A few months back, I saw a program on TLC (I think) about folks who religiously enter contests and sweepstakes. One woman in Virginia Beach claims she hasn’t had to buy a major appliance in 30 years, and has won more than 5 automobiles and dozens of trips. And it got me to thinking…

I decided to perform a little experiment. I’d spend 6 months entering contests and see what happened. So in mid August I found a sweepstakes site that not only points you towards a number of contests, but helps you organize and track them.  This way, I could go to one place each day, enter all my contests and keep track of when they expire.

Since August I have spent around 45 minutes each morning entering anywhere from 50-65 contest. Most of them are daily entries with prizes ranging from cars, televisions, cookware, trips and cash. I even entered for a chance to win a dream house on the shores of northern Virginia. Each time I sent in my entry I fantasized about winning and spending summers along the shores of Chesapeake Bay. Hell, I’d move there.

I only entered contests for items I was really interested in. For instance, a trip for 2  to a NASCAR event, or a guitar autographed by Vince Gill holds zero value for me, so why waste my time filling out form each day? And why try to steal that prize from someone who really wishes they could win it?

I will also rarely enter contests where you can win a trip for two. I have a family of four. Winning a trip for 2, while thrilling, would cause so many headaches that I just pass most of them up. I have entered a few, I’ll admit, but to places we can either drive to and drag the kids along, or where the destination was so enticing I figured I’d live with the headaches if I won.

I enter the “1 entry only” contests on a whim…like what chance do I really have with only one entry? And the instant wins just flat out piss me off. They give me my humiliating daily dose of rejection. Sorry, you LOST! But, other sweepers on my site win them all the time, so I keep trying.

Ah, the other sweepers and the sweepstakes forum. Until today it mocked me with hoards of lucky people bragging about their wins. “I won a trip to the X-Factor in LA!” “I won a 42″ HDTV!” “I won a year’s supply of fruit snacks!” And there I sit, like Charlie Brown on Halloween thinking “I got a rock.” I longed to win even the smallest prize; an umbrella or movie tickets, just so I could post something under the winner’s circle.

Fast forward to 4 pm today. My husband IM’s me at work (yes, we still use IM) and asks me if I ordered anything from Le Creuset. My mental sweepstakes rolodex immediately spun itself to a daily contest I enter every morning. It’s one of the smaller sweeps where you can choose from 4 different cookware items. I always select the cast iron skillet because it was the most expensive of the 4 and I don’t have one. When I told him I think it was actually a contest win, he warned me that we had better not get any sort of bill in the mail. What a party pooper.

I raced home from work and opened the box, fully expecting to see a congratulatory letter. All that was in there was a bunch of wadded paper and the skillet. The beautiful skillet – heavy and thick and made in France. Most of my cookware looks like it was made in Bayone, NJ. In 1945.

Look! It's Me!

I was still puzzled as to whether I had actually won this thing. I had received no email or phone call, so I headed to their website and found a link for the winners. And there I was. My name was drawn as the daily winner on October 9th. You know, I’m sort of glad I didn’t know that I won way back then. I took them close to a month to mail the prize and I would’ve been all pins and needles waiting for it.

The conclusion of my little experiment? I think it’s worth 45 minutes of my time in the morning. Today proves to me that you can win. Yeah, it may have only been a $100 cast iron skillet, but who’s to say there isn’t a trip or a car or a tv in my future? I’ll ride out the full 6 months and see what I can accumulate. Maybe one day I’ll be blogging from my $750,000 home on the Chesapeake. The winner will be announced this month!