The History of Sweepstakes

Did you know that in the United States ALL sweepstakes MUST be free to enter and win?

It was in 1950’s America that sweepstakes slowly began to become a nationwide trend for brands. The promise of winning free cars, products, and money was enticing to all people and was an innovative idea in advertising. It was different then, than it is now, though. Sweepstakes back then more closely resembled lotteries, where you had to “pay to play”. For example, back then a cereal company might run an advertising campaign where they were offering $1,000 to whoever bought the winning package of cereal. This required you to make a purchase, which today would classify the promotion not as a sweepstake, but a lottery. In the end, they would make a lot more money than they were giving away ‘for free’ with all of the people looking for the winning box of cereal.

Have you ever read the words “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY?” Sweepstakes are required to have these words to let you know that it’s free to enter. Requiring purchase, as we just went over, would turn the sweepstakes into a lottery. The FCC and FTC created anti-lottery laws to help regulate sweepstakes – due to the potential for abuse. Today sweepstakes are heavily regulated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, making sure sweepstakes are not scams and comply with all the regulations. This is great for the players, who can rest assured that sweepstakes like Sweepszilla are the real deal.

It’s important to look for sweepstakes that follow some of the rules that sweepstakes must follow to stay safe. Definitely look for the “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY” sign and once you do find it make sure that nobody is forcing you to buy a product to enter! Next, read the rules. While they may be confusing and long, if you do a quick read through you can usually learn a lot about the sweepstakes. Be sure to check out the terms and conditions for eligibility requirements, available prizes, and promotion dates. 

Some other things to know about sweepstakes include that you should never have to pay for anything – including shipping! No sweepstake should ever ask you to pay for shipping, they will always ship you your prize for free if they are legitimate.

We hope you learned something today!