Winning a sweepstakes: Is it possible?

Ever walked through an aisle at the grocery store, seeing multiple opportunities to win an inconceivable amount of money, or a dream vacation for doing something as simple as entering a code from a box or a bottle cap?

Promotional contests and sweepstakes like these are advertised on everyday products, company websites, and even social media sites. Since they are so common, however, we tend to overlook major giveaways because the probability that we will win is one-in-…well, nearly every person in the country.

Truthfully, I gave up the hope of winning a huge promotional prize a very long time ago, because the odds of winning are only sensible to a young, gullible mind. I wholeheartedly believed that winning was impossible – that is, until I actually won.

Once in a blue moon, a driver from the most prestigious level of NASCAR will give away a prize to one of their many Twitter followers. Most of the time, these prizes consist of VIP passes to a race, a race-worn fire suit, or some other unique, highly sought-after item.

NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin hosts an annual contest for his nearly 200,000 Twitter followers to enter, in which one fan will come away with an all-expense paid trip to the race of their choice, as well as his helmet and several thousand dollars. Easy enough, right? Out of 200,000, one of them will win. Anyone who enters understands that the odds aren’t in their favor, and that they should not get their hopes up about it. To spare myself disappointment, I also refrained from believing I could win.

Though I understood that it was nearly impossible to win, I decided to give this contest a shot. I had no doubt in my mind that some other extremely lucky person would win the prize, but I figured I’d try anyway.

Denny asked a trivia question, and explained that the eleventh person to answer correctly would be the winner. In the course of about five minutes, out of hundreds of thousands of answers, I was the lucky number eleven. I was notified via Twitter by Denny, and I immediately began planning my trip to the second-largest spectacle of the NASCAR season – the Sprint All-Star Race.

Overwhelmed by excitement and shock, I ran to my parents to tell them. Winning an all-expense paid vacation in a contest was so utterly impossible that my parents didn’t believe me at first, and I had to show them proof of my winnings.

Several months later, we were being treated like royalty for an entire NASCAR weekend, at no charge to us. The entire trip – including incidentals – was completely covered by Denny. The value of this prize was something I could only dream of, and something I believed that I would only ever dream about.

Who would have thought it was actually possible to win a dream vacation from a sweepstakes? I certainly didn’t. Take it from my experience: next time you’re being bombarded with opportunities to win fabulous prizes while walking down an aisle at the grocery store or surfing the internet, go for it. The odds may not be in your favor, but there will always be a winner – and it might just be you.