People frequently ask how names can be drawn when different entry methods are offered.
HGTV released a video of the 2009 Dream Home Drawing, which shows how they handled online and mail-in entries.
1. Entries are Divided into Batches
First, they divided all of the entries that they received into bins. The approximately 900,000 mail-in entries were divided into physical bins. The rest -- more than 38 million online entries -- were divided into virtual "bins" on a computer.
Each bin was assigned a number. The bins with the mail-in entries were assigned the numbers 1 - 18. There were 764 "virtual bins" holding the online entries, numbered 19 - 782.
2. A Bin Number is Drawn from a Hopper
Balls, each bearing one of the 782 numbers from the bins, were placed into a hopper.
3. A Winning Entry is Drawn from the Chosen Bin
If the ball that was drawn from the hopper was numbered 1 - 18, a random envelope would be selected from that bin. If one of the virtual bins was selected, the computer would scroll through entries contained in that virtual bin until the space bar was pressed. That entry would be the winner.
A similar method can be used for any other drawing that has both online and mail-in entries. Either each mail-in entry is entered into a computer and treated like an online entry, or entries are divided into batches, and the number of the batch is drawn first, then the entry from within that batch.