January 30, 2015 8:09 PM - Subscribe

"Sweepers" are people who spend their free time entering hundreds of online sweepstakes -- the contests most of us skip because we're sure they're all scams. It turns out, we're wrong. Some people win big.

Sandra Grauschopf is's Contests and Sweepstakes Expert. You can visit her website,, to learn all you need to know about sweepstakes, and to check out what other sweepers have to say in's contests and sweepstakes forums.
You can order Don Cruz's book "Life of an HGTV Dream Home Winner" at his website,
Thanks for listening. If you like the show please follow TLDR on Twitter and subscribe to us on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts.
posted by bq (6 comments total)
That was pretty awesome and unexpected. Hooray for Internet communities coming together in unexpected ways!

Fess up, mefites: do you enter online sweepstakes?
posted by bq at 8:10 PM on January 30, 2015

Huh! I've followed Sandra on LiveJournal for ages. She hasn't posted much about sweepstakes (probably to keep stuff for, but what she has posted was really interesting.

I'll listen to this tomorrow and report back.
posted by minsies at 7:22 AM on January 31, 2015

This was a quintessential TLDR show: something fascinating I've never heard of that is way bigger than I thought. In my early internet days, friends used to be into entering small sweepstakes, and I once won a TiVo in an essay contest. The trick was to find a really small potatoes daily giveaway that no one seemed to care about, and not tell the whole world about it, which makes it easier to win a xbox or $50 gift cert or whatever it is. I never did it regularly though.

It's natural and kind of awesome that there are whole communities of people that just do this a couple hours a day. I like that they formed communities around it and built forums to share info.

The main subject of the story though is a tough one. I was impressed they won the big HGTV house, but it sounded silly that they basically let it get lost to foreclosure. It's like they had magic beans and didn't do anything with them, and lost everything in the process.

Why didn't they sell the house when things were looking bad and get at least half the money out of it? I feel like they didn't have enough info and made some poor decisions, but then the guy says he wouldn't change anything if he did it again, which is unfortunate. If you had a $2mil house, and you owed $500k in taxes on it, even if you couldn't pay it, before the house foreclosed, he could have sold it for even just $1mil, paid off the $500k, and gotten a $500k payday out of it, no? It seems like they missed an enormous opportunity to at least get a decent retirement out of the tumultuous time they had that giant expensive house. To hear that they just lost it and moved back into their old home is kind of sad.
posted by mathowie at 2:37 PM on January 31, 2015

I'd read mathowie's comment before I listened to this, and I thought that maybe the selling the house thing wasn't an option somehow, that it was against the rules of the contest, and that it wouldn't come up in the podcast. But they bring it up near the beginning of the HGTV segment - that's what most winners do! After that, I didn't have a lot of sympathy for Don. It obviously sucks that his wife got sick. I guess it's nice that all those people showed up for the surgery, but also, pretty weird. I would not be OK with that. If he had sold the house, he probably wouldn't have needed to take out a mortgage to pay the medical bills.

I think he said that the first weekend was great, but a foreclosure is not a cost I'd assume most people would be willing to pay for a great weekend.

I hope HGTV is paying him for buzz marketing them all over this thing, too. (I probably listen to too much Judge John Hodgman, but I was starting to hope for one of his interruptions w/r/t that during Don's third or fourth mention of them).

I wish there had been a bit more detail about the communities - that was the most interesting part to me. It also seemed like they'd recorded a lot more of the interview with Sandra and just put in the most high-profile bits (Prada, etc.) - I'd like to hear the whole thing. I didn't find the intro very coherent.
posted by minsies at 7:58 AM on February 1, 2015

Oh, and I don't enter online sweepstakes.
posted by minsies at 7:59 AM on February 1, 2015

So, this was a re-run which makes me wonder, do you guys listen to podcast re-runs? I normally skip them if I either recognize it as a rerun, or they announce it at the beginning of the show because I have a long list of other podcasts I'm behind on. What do you guys do?
posted by garlic at 7:23 AM on February 3, 2015

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