ABC News is currently running a story called Sweepstakes Addicts Win Big! that also highlights the supposed strangeness of people who enter sweepstakes as a hobby. The article starts off: "Among the 55 million Americans who enter sweepstakes contests every year, there's a small group of addicts known as 'sweepers,' who spend hours everyday submitting their forms and trying their luck. They are addicted to the chance of winning..."
To me, that's a very strange terminology to use about people who enjoy a hobby. Are people who jog regularly "addicted" to jogging? Maybe some of them, but there's a difference between an addiction and a hobby. Kimberly Read & Marcia Purse, the BiPolar Guides, define addiction as "Compulsively engaging in an activity to fill a psychological need that is beyond one's control." That doesn't sound like me, or most of the sweepers I know. I think entering sweepstakes is FUN. I think winning them is even more fun. I don't do it for a psychological reason I can't control, any more than people who like going out to eat do.
To emphasize the "addiction," the ABC article refers to one woman who spends up to 20 hours a week sweeping (and who wins a whole lot of sweepstakes to show for it). 20 hours a week is a bit less than three hours a day - which is less than I spend. I usually spend between half an hour and an hour a day entering sweeps, depending on how much time I have. But does three hours a day mean she has an addiction? When I think about how much time the average person spends sitting in front of a television each day, it doesn't seem like that much. And many people enter sweepstakes while they're doing other things - entering with their laptops while watching TV with their family, for instance.
So what do you think? Why do sweepers have such a bad reputation as freaks or weirdos? And what could we do to improve our reputation in the public eye? Maybe we should lobby for a National Sweepstakes Awareness Day.