How to Win Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and Contests in the 21st Century 2nd Edition

How to Win Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and Contests in the 21st Century : 2nd Edition
Steve Ledoux
July 2004

In this completely revised and updated second edition of his best-selling book How to Win Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and Contests in the 21st Century (over 75,000 copies sold!), Steve Ledoux—America's Sweepstakes King—reveals the secrets that have enabled him to win thousands and thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. He also shares his skills in choosing lottery numbers, entering and winning sweepstakes and contests, and spotting illegal scams in this savvy collection of prize-winning strategies.

Lottery and sweepstakes hopefuls learn how to find the right contests to enter, how to protect themselves from cheaters, and what to expect after winning, including how to deal with the IRS and give interviews to the media. Internet sweepstakes, contests, game shows, and resources complete this guide to winning the jackpot! Readers will learn:

  • How to easily increase their chances of becoming a winner
  • Strategies for choosing lottery numbers
  • How to spot an illegal lottery, sweepstakes, or contest
  • Where to find out about lotteries, sweepstakes, and contests taking place nationwide
  • How to choose which lotteries, sweepstakes, and contests to enter
  • What to expect after they've won their fortune-from dealing with the IRS to giving interviews to newspaper and television reporters

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Table of Contents

Millions of Dollars to Be Won

Chapter One
Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and Contests: An Overview

  • A Relaxing Hobby
  • The Right Attitude
  • Lotteries and Sweepstakes versus Contests
  • How to Spot Phony Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and ContestsChapter Two
    Lotteries: A Ticket to Wealth
  • A Variety of Ways to Win Lotteries
  • Choosing Your Numbers
  • Daily Numbers
  • Multistate Lotteries
    • Mega Millions
    • Wild Card
    • Hot Lotto
    • Instant GamesChapter Three
      How to Increase Your Odds of Winning LotteriesChapter Four
      Sweepstakes: You Really Can Be a Winner!
  • Types of Sweepstakes
  • Rules and RegulationsChapter Five
    Contests: Games of Skill
  • Types of Contests
  • Word Contests
  • Recipe Contests
  • Radio Contests
  • Contest Oddities
  • Rules and RegulationsChapter Six
    How to Win Sweepstakes and Contests!Chapter Seven
    Where to Look for Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and Contests
  • Computers and Winning
  • Sweepstakes Online
  • Magazines
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Newsletters
  • Local Shops
  • Sweepstakes and Contest Clubs
  • Technology at Your Grocery Store
  • Where to Find Contests
  • National Contests
  • Contests for the Whole FamilyChapter Eight
    How to Become a Game Show Contestant
  • Game Show Myths
  • Choosing a Show That’s Right for You
  • Passing the AuditionChapter Nine
    You’re a Winner! Now What?
  • The Public Eye
  • What to Expect After You’ve Won Your Fortune
  • The IRS
  • DeductionsChapter Ten
    Frequently Asked Questions and Their AnswersConclusion

    Millions of Dollars to be Won

    You are probably familiar with the old saying, “What a difference a day makes.” A more appropriate phrase today is “What a difference a century makes!” The twenty-first century is the most exciting and profitable time to be an active, knowledgeable participant in lotteries, sweepstakes, and contests. One thing the new millennium hasn’t changed is the same wonderful fantasy that most of us share.

    How many times a day do you catch yourself dreaming about what life would be like after winning 1 or 2 or even 10 million dollars? What would you do first? Would you move to an ocean-front mansion? Travel the world? Buy a Rolls Royce for weekdays and a Porsche for weekends? Or would you, as many others have done, keep your life very much the same and invest for a secure future for your family? You might be surprised at the number of lottery winners who keep their day jobs.

    But these dreams are what inspire us. They are the reasons for our hard work and dedication, and there are as many different dreams as there are people. Fantasies like these can be pleasant diversions from the daily grind. But this book isn’t about fantasies or imagination. It’s about helping to make your dreams come true by helping to better your odds of winning.

    Each year, millions of dollars are won in sweepstakes and contests by people just like you. In spite of these millions being won, many people still simply refuse to believe that they have a chance of winning. The majority of the population continues to be skeptical about such games, feeling that you simply can’t get something for nothing. These people feel as if it’s not worth their time or effort to enter. They often resort to the time-worn excuse, “no one really wins anyway.” But this could not be further from the truth. You can rest assured that most sweepstakes and contests are completely legitimate, there are very few incidents of fraud or cheating, and the winners are not friends of the judges. And now that you have begun to take the first step toward increasing your odds of winning, you might want to take a moment to thank those people who don’t enter contests and sweepstakes. Their refusal to participate only means better odds for those of us who do!

    But why does it always seem like somebody else wins? Quite simply, because most people just don’t have the discipline to become a winner. It’s certainly not difficult, but like most endeavors, winning does take some amount of resolve and dedication. Often, people’s refusal to take even the first step prevents them from going any further. Think about this. How often have you been reluctant to enter a sweepstakes or contest just because you didn’t think you would win? But how can you possibly win if you don’t even enter? As an old baseball player once said, “You’ve gotta take your turn at bat to hit a home run.” The same holds true for you.

    There are few guarantees in life. This book offers only a simple one: I can give you the tips that will allow you to significantly increase your chances of winning. And once you win that first prize, you’ll want to win again. You will look forward to getting your mail like never before. You may decide to keep a lucky bottle of sun block around the house in case you win a cruise or a Hawaiian vacation. There are all kinds of prizes out there, just waiting to be won. It is exciting to receive valuable prizes and cash, delivered straight to your door. Imagine going on an exotic, adventurous, all-expense-paid dream vacation, or driving a brand-new car with no car payments to worry about. Add to this a long list of smaller prizes that will help make your life more enjoyable-a new pair of shoes, perhaps some good music and a nice stereo to play it on. No matter what you may now believe, it’s possible that all this is available to you simply by filling out some sweepstakes forms, entering contests, or buying lottery tickets. Once I learned how to successfully enter, the prizes began rolling in. In my first few years of successful entering, I won almost $20,000 worth of cash and prizes. And the prizes are continuing to come in. Perhaps you’re like many other folks who don’t consider themselves “lucky” enough to win such prizes. No problem. With my book, you’ll discover the surprisingly simple methods that have helped me achieve my goal of becoming a sweepstakes winner-luck or no luck.

    With the technological advances of the last few years, there are plenty of new ways to enter sweepstakes and contests. The Internet is a perfect example of how technology has presented a wealth of opportunities for people who want to win. As advertisers and sponsors look for ways to introduce consumers to their products through Web pages, the variety and volume of Web-based sweepstakes and contests is increasing rapidly.

    But how do you find out about and enter Web-based sweepstakes and contests if you don’t have a computer? That’s easy. Most reputable sweepstakes newsletters provide information on these Internet opportunities, and that information should include the rules of the contests and alternate means of entry.

    In the new century, we are also faced with the advantages and problems of technology. Because our personal information can be transferred in a matter of seconds between computers, we can enjoy conveniences that we were previously not able to even consider. From just about any ATM in the world, we can access our bank account information in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, this same technology can allow our personal information to be transferred from a legitimate contest, sweepstakes, or mailing list to one with fraudulent intentions. Mailing lists are bought and sold every day in this country, and in some cases, contest and sweepstakes sponsors reserve the right to compile and even sell your personal information. Sales like these can translate into hundreds of pieces of junk mail, SPAM e-mail, and faux contests for those of us that submit our information for legitimate contests.

    There are plenty of legitimate wins out there, so don’t be discouraged by a few bad eggs. By the end of this book, you’ll know how to spot them. You’ll also know how to capitalize on the thousands of good eggs out there. And believe me, they’re out there. It’s been over 4 years since the last edition of this book, and I am still winning and enjoying the process of entering lotteries, sweepstakes, and contests more than ever! Internet use continues to grow, which attracts advertisers to include more sweepstakes and contests in their advertisements. It has never been easier or faster to enter a bunch of sweepstakes in a relatively short time, which cuts down on sweepstakes supplies such as stamps and envelopes. Despite the growth of the Internet, I am a firm believer in not limiting myself to just Internet entries if the rules also allow additional means of entry. My motto is “increase the odds, enter every way, including the old-fashioned way.” Of course, every entry can’t be a winner, but the possibility of winning a major jackpot, grand prize or even a smaller one is a thrilling daily prospect. Even though I enjoy other hobbies and activities, I have yet to find anything that provides the excitement, relaxation and rewards that entering to win produces.

    Over the years it has been great fun sharing my secrets for winning through my book, seminars, and TV and radio interviews. Interest in winning is truly a global phenomenon. Recently I was interviewed by a radio station in Tokyo, Japan. The interviewers were interested in learning how American sweepstakes differ from theirs, along with my techniques for being a consistent winner. I am working on winning a trip to Japan, since they gave me the gracious offer to visit them in person when I am in Japan.

    Let me update you on some of my wins.

    After a long wait, I became a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune”. The selection process for the show starts off like a sweepstakes. I had to mail in a postcard with my name, address, and phone number. They had a drawing and my card was selected, so they called me into their office along with a huge group of other hopefuls. I passed the written test, and the interview, so I was in their file as a future contestant. Six months went by until I was invited down to their studio to tape the show. It was worth the wait; I walked away from the wheel with a nice stash of cash!

    In 2002 I won an all expense paid trip for two to an all inclusive resort in Jamaica that was sponsored by my local cable TV company. Not only did I take advantage of all the delicious exotic food and tropical drinks, but I took a tour up to the Blue Mountains where the famous Jamaican coffee is made and I even climbed a waterfall! I also had the opportunity to use the Reef Master underwater camera that I won from another sweepstakes.

    At a grand opening of a new drug store I entered twice and won two trips, one to Washington, D.C. and the other to Las Vegas. It was to my advantage that they were giving away a total of 50 trips to celebrate the new store! This was an interesting prize since for each prize package I had to pick three destinations out of a booklet that I was provided. It was up to the prize fulfillment company to determine which of my choices would be my vacation spot.

    One of my latest unusual wins was a “Kick for Cash” contest where I won the chance to kick a field goal at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena with a prize of $100,000! I found out that my entry was selected just three days before the big game. Having not kicked a football since gym class, I went to a local high school and pleaded with the football coach to recommend a couple of his star players to train me. Of course I paid the squad members for their help and with a little coaching I was clearing the goal posts! The big day arrived and I was called to the field at half time. I had practiced a little too much for this opportunity to take home a bundle. With all the practice I could hardly lift my legs to walk out to the field. With a drum roll I approached the ball, mustarded up a good kick, but the ball fell a foot and a half under the goal post! Even without the cash, I won some great consolation prizes and it was an event to remember.

    Speaking of the Rose Bowl, I entered a sweepstakes sponsored by a cat food company. The grand prize was to ride in the Rose Parade on its floral float. I was awarded first prize, a big screen TV, which was delivered just in time to host a Super Bowl party for my friends.

    Coincidentally, I have been winning a lot of food prizes. At the beginning of this year I was notified that I won a year’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I spotted the entry form in the Sunday Coupon section. Fortunately, they didn’t deliver a mountain of ice cream packed in dry ice. I would have needed to win a freezer to store it all. The ice cream actually arrived in the mail in the form of coupons. I am on the lookout for a sweepstakes offering a grand prize of a health club membership. I will need it if I eat all the ice cream I won.

    I also won 50 complete meals at In-N-Out fast food restaurant. I was going after the grand prize of a classic car, but I’m not complaining. They make my favorite hamburgers. Plus it makes me popular with my friends, since I like to treat them to a quick meal every now and then.

    I bought my first house in this new millennium. I must admit that I was hoping to win one! For years I have been entering HGTV’s Dream Home giveaway sweepstakes whose grand prize is a fabulous house, beautifully furnished and usually including other great add-ons like vehicles and boats. Soon after I moved into my house I noticed that Ron Hazelton’s House Calls, which is a syndicated home improvement TV show, was going to be shooting a week’s worth of shows in California. Homeowners could submit a project idea and if selected Ron and his crew would come to the homeowners house and do the project with the owner. I used some of my contest skills to make my entry stand out from the rest. I found out later that there were over 1,300 entries for this special California segment. I came up with a project idea of building a new mailbox for my house since the small narrow brass one that came with my house was not handling my mail load, especially when I receive prizes and prize notifications. Now I am the proud owner of a deluxe oversize customized mailbox. My neighbors thought that it was funny that it took 12 hours of taping and a crew of 20 to complete the project, my now famous mailbox. However, it is not nearly as famous as the house right across the street from me, which was used as the “Brady Bunch” house on the popular series.

    Over the years I have won many terrific prizes, some of them very unique. In 1996, I won the grand prize in a sweepstakes sponsored by KABC radio that included a chance to appear in the musical production of Show Boat at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, starring Cloris Leachman and Ned Beatty. Also included were tickets for 10 friends to attend both the show and a gourmet dinner at Bernard’s restaurant in the Biltmore Hotel. I only entered the sweepstakes once, with a large decorated envelope. My role in the play was that of a passenger on the Cotton Blossom boat in the first scene, and before I stepped onto the stage, the stage manager made an announcement to the audience that I was joining the cast for the performance. And there I was, in a costume from the 1880s, waving at the cast members on the “shore” from the bow of a mechanical boat. After my appearance, I quickly changed into my civilian clothes and joined my friends in the audience. After the play, we were all invited backstage to meet the actors and actresses and to tour the set.

    In June of 1998, I won a contest sponsored by Miller Lite-a search for the biggest Dodger fan. To enter, I had to write a paragraph on my qualifications as the Dodgers’ biggest fan. My letter was chosen, and I realized that I had not thrown a baseball in years. The few days between my notification and the big game were filled with impromptu practice sessions, and when I couldn’t find a friend who would sit in as catcher, I practiced by throwing at the trunk of a tree. The big day finally arrived, and I was introduced to a crowd of 38,000 over the stadium’s p.a. system. As I walked out to the pitcher’s mound, I could see my face on the super-sized Dodger television screen. Now that’s thrilling!

    My practice paid off, and I threw a strike pitch to the Dodger catcher, and despite the fact that the Dodgers were having a losing season, they won that game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    And the vacations . . .

    One of the most fascinating trips I won was a trip to Berlin, Germany to see the Rolling Stones perform at the Coliseum. Included in the trip was roundtrip transportation, accommodations at the Hilton located in what used to be East Berlin, special events, meals, tours, and the concert itself. The concert was sponsored by Budweiser beer, and I found the entry forms while shopping at my local drugstore. There was a gigantic display of Budweiser beer with an eye-catching cardboard cutout along with entry forms. I only took a few forms back home, which I quickly filled out and mailed in. I noticed that there was an alternative way of entering by calling into a radio station. As it happened, one of my entry forms was chosen, and as I took in the historic sights of Berlin and watched the Stones concert, I kept thinking to myself that all it took to get here was an entry form and a stamp! The concert was a blast, the seats were terrific, and being a part of the screaming, sold-out audience was tremendously exciting.

    If you are like me, you have an idea of what your perfect vacation getaway would be. Mine has always been a cruise, and thanks to my sweepstakes hobby, I won a Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines. The sweepstakes was sponsored by Diet Coke, and as part of the prize, the winners appeared in a Diet Coke commercial that was filmed aboard the ship! We were filmed on camera answering why we love Diet Coke, and because I am a huge Diet Coke fan, I didn’t have any problem answering the question. I took day excursions to the Mayan ruins of Tulum at the Yucatan Peninsula, and I was treated to a submarine ride in the Grand Caymans with spectacular views of the beautiful fish, plant life, and coral reefs.

    I have won trips to Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Catalina Island, Hawaii, and a couple of weekend getaways to San Francisco. I also won a trip to Puerto Rico and was introduced to what has become one of my favorite pastimes-besides winning, of course-snorkeling and scuba diving.

    In addition to the vacations, the last 13 years have produced over 500 prize wins. Here are a few of them:

  • A year’s supply of vitamins (especially valuable during the cold and flu season)
  • An Olympic pin set including commemorative pins from each of the Olympic games
  • A Joe Montana Upper Deck card ($250 value)
  • A $500 gift certificate for patio furniture (for correctly filling out a crossword puzzle in a local newspaper)
  • An Apple computer and printer
  • Four color televisions
  • Too many gift certificates to count
  • A $2,000 guitar, with guitar lessons from a jazz master
  • Rollerblades
  • A bread maker
  • An expensive pair of hiking boots
  • Over 35 compact discs
  • 80 long-distance calling cards
  • Tickets, airfare, and accommodations to see a Dodger game in San Francisco
  • Two fax machines
  • $500 in cash
  • $100 cash from Pizza Hut’s Celebrity Delivery Second Chance Sweepstakes
  • $100 in free video rentals
  • A Sony Car Discman
  • Four tickets to Disneyland
  • A ski trip for two to Lake Tahoe
  • A Weber Grill and Harry and David steaks
  • A case of shampoo
  • Tickets to the zoo
  • A skateboard
  • A 101 Dalmatians dog food bowl and a dental cleaning for April, my West Highland terrier!
  • Two grocery store shopping sprees
  • Numerous theater and movie tickets
  • Free dinners
  • 35 mm camera

My desire to win began years ago with game shows. Before I even realized the opportunities that were available in the world of sweepstakes, contests, and lotteries, I’d already had great success as a game show contestant. Over the last several years I’ve racked up wins on shows including Wheel of Fortune, Match Game, Hot Streak, Blackout, Quicksilver, and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. (You may never have heard of a few of these games, but that’s good; I’ll tell you why later on.) I considered making a career out of being a contestant, but I soon learned that there are rules that restrict the number of game shows on which a person can be a contestant, but more about that later. My game show victories got me hooked on winning.

I then turned my attention toward the countless other sweepstakes and contests that are out there, ripe for the picking. And, as I soon discovered, there’s no limit to the number of such contests you can win. You’ll learn a little later in the book just how many opportunities are out there, and how to track them down.

But I got off to a rather shaky start. Without any guidance or knowledge about the world of sweepstakes and contests, I relied solely on luck. Don’t get me wrong, good fortune is a wonderful thing, but in terms of sweepstaking, it’s not the most important thing. After several years of misguided effort, I came away with a couple of tacky key chains and ugly T-shirts. I ended up so discouraged that I gave it up.

Still, that excitement of winning cash on the game shows lingered. And since I wasn’t allowed back on a game show for several more years, I took another run at sweepstakes. But this time I did my homework. Through trial and error, through experimentation and hard work, I came up with a plan. It’s the very same plan contained in this book. And then I put my plan into action.

My first windfall came while shopping at a well-known grocery store chain. As it happened, the store was promoting its 25th anniversary with a sweepstakes. Using a few of the tricks I’d learned, I entered the contest at each of the chain’s 12 stores. Guess what? I won a trip to Puerto Rico-the chain’s grand prize. I also won three color televisions from three individual stores. And I won a gift certificate worth $100. It was clear that my system was working pretty well. I was off and running.

A few weeks later, I rounded the corner of an aisle in another grocery store and almost knocked over a display for a Diet Coke giveaway. A cruise to the Caribbean sounded pretty good, so I entered. Three weeks later, I got the good news that my techniques had worked again. My dreams of winning had come true. Other trips quickly followed-San Francisco, Las Vegas, to name a couple-so many that I decided to stop entering such contests for the time being. Because of work, I just didn’t have the time to take all the trips I knew I could win! Nor did I want to pay the taxes on prizes that I would not be using.

To give you an example of how well my plans were working, I decided to enter a cooking contest. This is something akin to Attila the Hun becoming a teacher at a charm school. No matter. Despite my lack of cooking talent, I knew what the judges would want. And when I gave it to them-a recipe I called “Cracklin’ Double-Nut Fried Chicken”-I received a $300 first prize and a fancy certificate suitable for framing.

Now my friends, family, and coworkers ask me for advice on sweepstakes. “What did you win today?” has become a common refrain around the office. People think that I’m the luckiest person on Earth. But while luck may indeed have something to do with my success, you don’t really need it to win.

Winning isn’t the only positive result of my success. One of the most rewarding aspects of my hobby is being able to share my experiences and advice with others. In addition to this book, I have conducted several seminars in major cities across the United States. These seminars give me an opportunity to share my experiences with others, and more importantly, they offer the audience a chance to meet others who share their enthusiasm for winning.

I usually begin each seminar by asking the people in the audience their reasons for attending. I have found that the majority of the attendees are really only interested in strategies for winning large lotteries. What they don’t realize is that by limiting themselves to only lotteries, they are missing out on sweepstakes, contests, and game shows that offer much better odds than lotteries alone.

Why are most people interested only in the lottery? There are a few reasons. Lotteries are typically run by state governments, and people have faith that the process is fair and just. Also, most people have heard about illegitimate sweepstakes, scam contests, and slick phone solicitors that have taken innocent people for a lot of money. You’ll learn tips for spotting phony sweepstakes and contests a little later in the book. The final reason, perhaps, is that, in general, lotteries represent the crème de la crème of winnings. The sheer amount of money involved makes lotteries the ultimate fantasy.

One exercise that I always perform at the seminar is to have the attendees list three prizes that they would really like to win. I also ask them to write down three ways they would spend the money if they were to win a lottery. I have found that it helps to visualize yourself winning the prize. It may not necessarily increase your odds, but visualization allows you to have a more positive attitude throughout the entry process. Also, if you really visualize the prizes you want to win, you are more likely to focus on those contests that will help you reach your goals.

These seminars have allowed me to meet interesting people from different parts of the country, and their willingness to learn more and their desire to win inspires everyone around them, including me.

© 2000 by Santa Monica Press LLC

Author Information

Steve Ledoux

The author of How to Win Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and Contests in the 21st Century has won more than 500 sweepstakes and contests and has collected tens of thousands of dollars in winnings. He was been a winning contestant on Wheel of Fortune, has won all-expenses paid trips for two to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Jamaica, and Las Vegas, and has won a year’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. His knack for winning has led him to be featured on over 100 television and radio shows, including interviews on the Howard Stern Show and The View. He lives in Studio City, California.


“How to win a lottery and get filthy rich!”

“Who wants to be a millionaire? Well, who doesn’t? Our next guest is going to show you how to increase the odds.”
Barbra Walters’ The View (ABC-TV)

“The Luckiest Man Alive!”
KTLA-TV Morning News

“Steve Ledoux is ‘The King of Contests,’ ‘The Wizard of Winning,’ ‘The Lord of Lotteries’ . . . Steve’s winning ways open the floodgates to fortune.”
National Enquirer TV

“How to win, win, win as many sweepstakes as you like”
Women’s Day

“How to become rich!”
KUSI Morning News

“A helpful book for anyone who enjoys gaming.”

“America’s Lottery Genius.”
National Examiner

“An excellent guide to winning strategies.”
The Bookwatch