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Sandra Grauschopf

TLC's Sweepstakes Show, High Stakes Sweepers: What Did You Think?

By August 16, 2011

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On Sunday, August 14th, TLC aired a show featuring sweepstakes fans called High Stakes Sweepers. The pilot episode followed six very enthusiastic sweepers, showing how they spend their time and boost their odds of winning. If you missed the show, you can see a clip here: High Stakes Sweepers Sneak Preview.

For us sweepers, a new television show about sweepstakes is often a cause for concern. One main reason is that entering sweepstakes is often portrayed as a hobby for addicts (or even crazy people), a fact I protested in a 2008 article, Why Are Sweepers Portrayed as "Addicts"?

The good news is that High Stakes Sweepers seems to have mostly avoided this generalization. In a discussion on Facebook, Pamela Summers wrote that she liked "the fact that we sweepers didn't come across as nuts." In the About.com Sweepstakes Forum, cld111 said: "I thought it was fairly reasonable, but it did make a couple of the sweepers look a little over the top." And Sweepstakes Forum member ~Kitty~ wrote: "I loved the show and I'm glad it didn't make us ALL look crazy."

What do you think? Did High Stakes Sweepers portray sweepstakes fans reasonably well? Click the "comments" link below to share your opinion.

Another concern about sweepstakes shows like High Stakes Sweepers is that it makes winning sweepstakes sound so easy that a ton of people will start entering sweepstakes, driving down the odds for sweepstakes fans who have been around for a while.

Sweepstakes shows often emphasize the thrill of winning, but they don't talk about how hard it is to stay motivated during long dry spells. And Sweepstakes Forum member 19patricia48 writes: "they totally understated the tax implication." This may make sweepstakes seem completely easy to win.

It's always been my opinion, though, that more publicity for the sweepstakes hobby is a good thing. It makes us sweepstakes fans less marginalized, and encourages more companies to offer sweepstakes. Or, as Treknott says in the Sweepstakes Forum: "more participants, more companies using this as a form of advertising. Ultimately this may be a good thing."

What do you think? Is publicity like you see in High Stakes Sweepers a good thing or a bad thing for the sweepstakes hobby? Click the "comments" link below to share your opinion.

If you missed the show, don't worry, it's being re-aired several times. See TLC's High Stakes Sweepers TV Listings to see when you can catch it.

If you're interested in entering sweepstakes after watching the show, here are some tips to help you get started:


August 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm
(1) Donna says:

I found the show fasinating! I have never really paid any attention to the sweepstakes on the products I buy but now I will. Thank you TLC for another great show!

August 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm
(2) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Donna, that’s great to hear!

August 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm
(3) Derek says:

Not so sure I want a television sized audience increase in competition. WE ARE ALL LUNATICS! STAY AWAY! ;)

August 16, 2011 at 4:39 pm
(4) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Haha! I can understand that, but I always feel that more sweepers lead to better prizes from companies. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it will be good news either way!

August 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm
(5) Robert says:

HI Sandra,

I was the guy who “closed the show” with my fishing analogy. I enjoyed being part of the show and learned a lot about how they produce a “reality” program. Remember, this is TLC’s version of our reality and that you should never believe everything you see on TV!

For some time I have been interested in you. I have Google Alerts setup and often find sweepstakes posted by you before I see them elsewhere. Maybe they will feature you in the future. You seem to be very “active” in sweepstaking as well.

Best of Luck, Robert

August 19, 2011 at 2:33 am
(6) Rhonda says:


I must admit – I completely agree with your comment…

August 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm
(7) christina says:

TLC is awesome. They always have interesting shows. I only caught a little bit of it but I thought It was awesome that there were people like me. I’m not extreme but I try to do sweepstakes daily. After I won $25 gift card from an M&Ms sweepstakes I kept up with it. I haven’t won since. Its a fun hobby and hey its free money. Its better then playing video games all day or wasting money.

August 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm
(8) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Congrats on your first win, Christina, and I hope more follow soon! I totally agree about sweepstakes being much more productive than watching tv or playing games all day! :)

August 17, 2011 at 12:18 am
(9) Deborah says:

I noticed most sweepstakes want your phone number. Does the sponsoring agency use these numbers ever to call and try to sell you their product? Just wondered!

August 19, 2011 at 6:36 am
(10) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Deborah, some sweepstakes will use your telephone number to contact you for marketing purposes, though I try to avoid those (and to avoid listing them here). If they do, though, they usually state that in the rules, since just entering sweepstakes is not enough for companies to ignore the do not call registry.

Most of the time, sweepstakes ask for phone numbers so they can contact you when you win. I have a phone number that I only use to enter sweepstakes, and I very rarely get calls on it, marketing or otherwise. If you’re reluctant to give out your home phone number, I have an article about alternatives to using your home phone for sweepstakes entry.

Good luck!

August 17, 2011 at 11:07 am
(11) Marybeth S says:

I have mixed feelings. Been an avid “sweeper” for 8 years. Honestly, I don’t think an influx of misinformed reality tv show viewers will endear us to sponsors. It will also attract more people trying to “work the system”. I do believe however, after realizing that it’s not really fill out a form and the stuff shows up, the novelty (and membership) will wane.

August 17, 2011 at 11:16 am
(12) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

I guess a lot of people will enter a sweep or two and give up. But I hope some will actually look into it, learn how it really works, and become fun members of our community. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! :)

August 18, 2011 at 11:41 am
(13) erica james says:

I really loved the show. With time all things seemed possible. I think I will start too!

August 18, 2011 at 11:55 am
(14) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Glad to hear it, Erica! I’ll look forward to hearing about your first win! :)

August 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm
(15) Marvin says:

Hi Sandra – yes, I watched the show on TLC and enjoyed it. The degree of participation is an individual decision, e.g., how much time does ones want to devote on a daily basis?

There was a show several years ago, maybe on 60 Minutes, that featured big bucks winners from lotteries, who paid off their mortgage, quit their day job, bought a Rolls Royce, went on a fabulous cruise, etc. It does happen.

Do you know of anyone who has actually won anything from Publishers Clearing House? It seems to me that they are operating the world’s longest running delusion.

Best regards & cheers, Marv

August 19, 2011 at 7:43 am
(16) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Marvin, I don’t know anyone personally who has won from PCH, but I have interviewed million-dollar winner Natalie Bostelman about her experience. I think that SO many people enter Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes that the odds of winning, or of knowing a winner, are slim. But those prizes do get awarded, so it doesn’t really hurt to give it a shot.

August 19, 2011 at 2:00 am
(17) Amanda says:

I’ve always seen sweepstakes, especially food/candy ones. I’ve never entered because I always felt it was some sort of scam and never bothered to educate myself on them.
I love buying lottery scratchers, and although I may win more often on those, I have found entering sweepstakes fun and addicting.
I’m not deluded and believe I will win cars and vacations everyday, but it beats spending 1 to 5 dollars on a scratcher.
I’ve also found interesting blogs and sites that I wouldn’t have gone to before ( I.e. steamykitchen.com ).

August 19, 2011 at 3:01 am
(18) Rhonda Bayless says:

Although I didn’t watch the show in it’s entirety, the show has been heavily promoted & aired several promotional segments explaining the new shows’ content, interviewing cast members on: “Good Morning America”, “Nightline”, “20/20″, and “World News with Diane Sawyer”, along with TLC’s channel & their website.

At first, I was very excited, seeing others just like me, serious professional sweepers. However, after seeing numerous & various segments mentioned in my previous paragraph, I couldn’t help comparing it to the show & segments regarding “extreme couponing”, which has resulted in a quite serious recent backlash. Disclosing ‘tips, tricks & methods” on the process of saving $$ with coupons, the masses have followed the methods on the show, and now many stores and manufactures have certainly caught onto the sudden popularity, and have now strictly altered rules & policies of accepting & honoring coupons, by prohibiting consumers from ‘stacking’ (using store & manufacturers coupons together), limiting quantities to one product per person, per day per coupon, no longer offering to double or triple coupons, etc etc.
I’m fearful that if the masses see this show about sweeping & assume they will win big overnight by massively entering perhaps incorrectly, not carefully reading the official rules, etc. that sponsors of these sweepstakes may resort to similar tactics with strict limitations that can directly affect folks like us that are completely devoted to sweeping, not someone who sees this as an opportunity to “jam the system” all for a quick buck. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.

August 19, 2011 at 3:32 am
(19) shawn c fischer says:

you all teaching peeps to trespass .. going thru people trash to win sweep stakes.. is wrong that trash blelongs to 2 people the people that threw it away and trash man .. why teach people to go thru other trash is wrong looking for codes in coke bottles is wrong its respassing .. im a trash man my dad is retired trashman and to know peeps going thur trash is wrong .. you all just trying to teach the wrong thing … those peeps going thru trash needs to ask the people to go thru thier trash .. there is law agenst that.. sad you all teach peeps to do wrong stuff .. i would not want people going thru my trash .. i think TLC needs lesson on fliming people on this cuz it wrong . high stakes need to find a new way to film show .. go thru my trash ill sue you … and if the people win from going thru other trash need to share the wealth. wasnt thiers in1st place cuz they trespass to get that win think bout it you want nother person going thru ur trash???? sad deal what you teaching making others think its ok to trespass in nothers trash…i think high stakes being on the tlc channel needs to teach the right thing … not got thru others proproty… teaching peeps to do that is way wrong .. i didnt see those peeps going thru trash ask to go thru trash … you think those peeps want you going thru thier trash ?? SAD DEAL !!! it is wrong to go thru other trash… me as trash man and my dad as a retired trash man .. you all teaching wrong thing its trespassing … i thought TLC was a learning thing .. look up the laws on this im wrong tell me teach people right not to go thru others belongings . trash man even will get in trouble for going thru a persons trash. just make you a thief to go thru the trash. go thru my trash you will go to jail for trespassing … think bout it … look before you leep.. think things thru .. go to landfill you want to go thru my trash .. they wont let you there niether …

August 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm
(20) Em says:

Good grief, learn how to spell and write in correct English before putting up a rant.

August 31, 2011 at 9:37 am
(21) Greg says:

The word that jumps to mind is PATHETIC. First of all, what exactly is high stakes about being too cheap and lazy to work and pay for things? Second, no mention of how they pay the taxes on the bigger prizes without having a job. They didn’t seem to be winning a lot of actual cash. There are two really sad parts of the shop that leap to mind. That milk toast married guy who is spending most of his postage and energy trying to win a free trip to Vegas to see bikini models, that spells loser on so many levels. The best “high stakes” example on the show was the woman forcing her young daughter to go through their neighbors garbage to look for soda cap codes. Pathetic isn’t even a strong enough word for her. All of those people need help, they are obviously obsessed with getting stuff for free and are totally wasting their lives. It was also twisted of the producers to show a few of these people winning big prizes. I would guess that they probably interviewed dozens of these types and then cherry picked the few that won.

September 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm
(22) Tony says:

Hi Sandra, I’m a long time fan of your work, a part time sweeper, and a publisher of sweepstakes.

I am totally in agreement that any positive publicity is good for sweepstakes. As a publisher, the struggle is always getting enough visitors to make it worthwhile. It’s hard because the history of our business it tainted by stories of scams and frauds. In fact, the largest search engine deems sweepstakes a “Get Rich Quick” scheme which is not allowed per their advertising policies.

Essentially the perception of what sweepstakes are is a hinderance to sweepstakes publishers.

So in that regard any publicity that portrays sweepers and sweepstakes in a good light will help raise the industry’s stature that publishers are scammers (I get this a lot) and that sweepers are a bit off kilter (second most popular question). As an industry we need publishers who are honest and willing to provide a quality prize, directories (like this one) that help drive traffic to publishers and promote sweepstakes as a healthy hobby, and sweepers who are willing to play. When these criteria are met we all win.

As far as more entries watering down the chance of winning a prize. That may be true. But as I’ve seen the rise in entries I have increased the prize by 40% and it is stays up I will increase the frequency so there are more winners per year.

I’d like to say thank you to all the sweepers out there. As my sweepstakes are advertising based (although all ads and offers may be skipped) they are not loved by all sweepers, but the hundreds that enter daily I have an extra special thank you for making this work. And by the way, those are the sweepers that come every day usually win the prize.

Good luck and have fun.


September 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm
(23) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Thanks for your insight, Tony, it’s always great to hear from the other side of the sweepstakes hobby — the sponsors and publishers.

September 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm
(24) Laura V. says:

I love the show! For the past 3 weeks, I come home from work, cook dinner and instead of reading, I enter sweeps for about an hour. I have yet to score, maybe I will give up after my first win, maybe it will fuel me to enter more Sweeps…. I will keep you posted on my first “win”! I am excited to have a new hobby!

September 6, 2011 at 3:33 am
(25) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Laura V., I hope your first win will be as exciting as mine was! Mine was just a computer game, but it was a blast realizing I really could win. I’m looking forward to hearing about yours!

September 26, 2011 at 11:21 am
(26) Mariah says:

Does anyone know how much high stake sweepers, or even people on extreme couponing get paid to be on the shows?

October 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm
(27) Marie says:

I have been a coupon user for 30 years. Since the extreme couponer show , stores are now doing away with double coupons. My mother who is 80 years old and been using coupons since I was little actually has had recent experiences of people behind making such comment now such as: Oh my God, one of those pathetic couponers!. It has gotten so bad with people going to extreme on coupons, that a local women was arrested for stealing newspapers for coupons!

I have also been entering sweepstakes about 14 years, love to enter for products and things I enjoy, even if I just win a small prize. I am not happy about this new show about sweepers. The first show was rather pitiful with the man that actually quit his job to devote his entire time to sweeps. As with the couponers if the show keeps going it will bring out the crazies.

My coupon hobby is nearly ruined, I do not want my sweepstakes hobby ruined.

September 11, 2012 at 1:13 am
(28) Danielle Lindquist says:

I just wanted to say that it all started out for me when I decided to enter a random contest from Castrol Oil, never in a million years thinking I would win anything. I used to enter about 40 contests every few months and hope for the best. Well 3 months after entering my 40 contests I got a letter from Fed Ex, I had won! I won a 7 day trip to Maui, Hawaii with air transportation, a rental car, 6 nights in a top notch resort and spending money. Two weeks after this I found out I had won from Ryan Seacrest radio, I won an xbox 360 kinect bundle with a game!

About two months ago I started playing instant win games, so far I have won free products, a case of kettle chips, a $50 visa gift card, 2 – $25 Mastercard gift cards, a $80 visa gift card, a beanie, and some other random smaller things. It is super exciting to get stuff in the mail! I have now been entering every single day for about 3 months and am hoping for another big win soon!

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