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Readers Respond: Reasons for Declining Sweepstakes Prizes

Responses: 18


We all enter sweepstakes dreaming of that perfect win, but every now and then, we win prizes we just can't use. Have you ever had to decline a sweepstakes prize you won? Share your story by telling us what you won, why you had to decline the prize, and how you felt about it afterwards. Have You Declined Prizes?

Pay tax on REAL value of trip, not 1099!

I hate to see winners "turn down" a trip because of it's value and it's tax implications. Often these trips are valued in excess of their real everyday value (if one was planning the same trip and paying for it with their hard-earned money - a rational buyer.) Contest sponsors often inflate the prize value - common practice - in order to inflate the perceived value of their promotion and increase interest in their product or service. When someone wins a trip, rather than turn down the offer instinctively because you can't/won't pay the taxes, do your homework. Given the FACT that the APV that is stated in the rules is for $X and that is likely an exageration, you need to seek out the real costs (borne by the sponsor) associated with the particular trip. Each component...the airfare, the hotels, rental cars or transfers,tickets to the respective activity (NASCAR race, ski lift tickets, scuba fees, etc.) Price them out. You only have to pay IRS on the REAL value - keep records!
—Guest Mohammed

Decling Sweepstake Prizes

If I win movie or event passes that won't be used by me or other family members, then I decline the prize and ask the sponsor to give them to a local charity (ie., Kids Up Front). I have also declined some kids toys that I have won in the past. In this case the sponsor chooses/draws another winner. A few years back, I won a fishing trip for two. I did not go, as I am disabled. In this case the sponsor allowed me to invite a mutual friend to my husband and me to go on the trip.attend
—Guest Alexa Nernberg

Declined trip to Disney.

This JUST HAPPENED and I am still not sure what to do. I received a call after putting my information in the contest, but I am not 19 yet so I lied about my age. Now I won and I don't know what to do.. The man asked for a credit card and I didn't know what to do and like an idiot I hung up. Oh well guess I've learned my lesson about lying about my age.
—Guest Sam

Declined a trip to London

My daughter won a trip to London from Radio Disney. We were grateful to have been chosen for such a wonderful prize. We booked the flights for one month out. Two weeks before our departure, the London bombings occured. I asked Radio Disney if we could have a raincheck on the trip and we were told absolutely not. We would have paid over $3,000 out of pocket for fees and spending cash so it just wasn't meant to be. I also tried to transfer the trip to a relative who was braver than I was and again was told no. I was disheartened by Radio Disney's response...
—Guest Cindy

Goodbye Grill

I won a $1400 grill that I did not want to pay taxes on. Also, it was huge and did not look right in my space. The sweeps had lots of gift cards for the sponsoring supermarket so I figured I would win one of those. I called the JA and asked if I could have a gift card ($100) instead. Well, the person on the phone did not have a clue. I should thought to have ask to talk to her supervisor but was so surprised about her lack of response that I just gave up! I have won many great prizes from a white Jeep to two weeks in Tahiti but this was the worst experience with a judging agency!!

Decline Vegas trip

After entering contests for about two weeks, I was just returning home from same-day surgery on my foot, when the phone rang with the news that I had won trip for 4 to Vegas. They needed an answer within 3 hrs and papers faxed by noon next day. Since the event was only 2 weeks away, I reluctantly had to turn it down.

Turned down L.A. music experience

I won a trip for four to Los Angeles to a music concert. I offered the trip to my ex and her three kids, but she hadn't heard of the band and declined. Rather than take on a $2,500 1099 expense - at least $1,000 in taxes - I declined as well. But, these things are negotiable. If I had wanted to go with just one other person, the prize value would have been half as much.
—Guest mcrosson


This summer I received a phone call from unknown name & number. The man did not identify himself but told me I was a grand prize winner & won a luxury car. I could not understand him & declined. First, I did not know if it was legit, nor could I have afforded the taxes. So I try to stay with either cash or small prizes.
—Guest Linda


I got a call at work one day saying that I had won a trip to Charlotte, NC for a Richard Petty Driving Experience. The grand prize winner had declined the prize and I was next in line. If I didn't want the driving experience, I would get a NASCAR cap. I had no idea that anyone I knew would want such a prize, and I knew I couldn't climb through the window of the car, so I said "I think I'll take the cap". When I told several people, including my son-in-law, I thought I was going to get killed! It seems that I was the only one who DIDN'T want the driving experience.
—Guest phyllist

Turned Down Event Tickets

I got called for Federal Jury Duty - and don't you know I win tickets to an event in an adjacent state ~ Any other time, we would have went. When I entered I did not know I would be called in that week, but I was!
—Guest JO

Turned down free hotel room

Early in my sweeping I'd signed up for a vacation giveaway that was just a hotel room in a distant location for three days. I got an email notification shortly after entering that I'd won, but realized hubby and I would have to pay for airfare and food, plus transportation from the airport. I emailed to tell them I wouldn't be accepting the prize, but the email bounced back as undeliverable and the 888 number was a hard-sell outfit -- so it wasn't really a giveaway.

It can't hurt to ask

I recently entered a sweep from Sunny-D with a different prize every day. I got a phone call from the fulfillment company that I had won a prize. Unfortunately, it was a family membership to YMCA, because we live a long way from any YMCA. I explained that to the lady and asked if the sponsor would consider a substitution. She called back within 15 minutes and said they would send me a $500 American Express card instead! WOW!! It can't hurt to ask.

Only one time

Last summer I entered a contest from Hertz, hoping to win one of the lower prizes of a gift card. When they notified me that I was the grand prize winner of $500.00 in hertz coupons, I explained that we do not travel and that I was entering to win a lesser prize. I asked if they would chose another winner. After some decision making they were kind enough to give me the cash equivalent of the coupons.

Trip to Hawaii

I recently won a trip to Hawaii and was very excited! However, after talking to the sponsors I realized that it did not include airfare. So now I have a decision to make- cough up the airfare for my self and my daughter, or decline the prize? At this point, I did accept the prize...and now I am checking airfare prices, hoping to get a good rate. I will be more careful in the future to about which contests I enter. Entering sweeps has a learning curve, and I am still learning. :)


I received a gift valued at $25. This contest was for children aged 6 to 18. I did not realize this when I entered. So I replied to the sponsors and told them that I had made a mistake by entering the contest and asked if they could pass my prize on to the next person on the list.

Have You Declined Prizes?

Reasons for Declining Sweepstakes Prizes

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