How do Sweepstakes work?

Millions of people participate in sweepstakes every year. Ever wondered how the entries are sorted and what the process is behind choosing winners of sweepstakes?

Here is your guide to everything you should know about how sweepstakes work.

To start with, let us understand the types of sweepstakes there are.

Types of sweepstakes

There are basically two types of sweepstakes depending upon the method of entry. You can either enter the sweepstakes by mail or you can register your name online. On that basis, the types of sweepstakes are – 

1. Offline sweepstakes

2. Online sweepstakes

Offline sweepstakes are hosted by companies at specific locations, likely in their business sales points. This is done to increase brand awareness and sales.

Online sweepstakes are offered on particular websites. All the announcements, rules and prizes are stated on the websites. Some of the most popular online sweepstake companies include and

Now that you understand the types of sweepstakes, it’s time to understand the exact process that takes place in the sweepstakes. 

How are winners chosen in sweepstakes?

Deciding a winner in sweepstakes is done through a random selection or drawing. 

The process of winner selection in offline sweepstakes are mentioned below:

Choosing winners via mailbag

One of the simplest ways to choose a winner for mail-in sweepstakes is picking a random envelope from the mail bag. The person whose envelope is picked gets to be the winner.

Choosing winners via container box

The company sponsoring the sweepstake lets one of the employees reach into the box and choose one envelope at random. The name found in the chosen envelope is considered as the winner.


When you are entering the sweepstake online, the winners may be chosen through a different approach. The process of winner selection in online sweepstakes is as follows:

If you are applying online, the process is carried on electronically. The selection is done through a computerized process and the winners are chosen in a matter of seconds. 

To get a better idea about the processes, check out this video which shows how winners of HGTV Dream House are picked.

Are there any guidelines/rules for sweepstakes to work?

Yes. Sweepstakes are monitored by a set of guidelines and each of them has its importance in the overall process. 

Here are some of the rules that sweepstake sponsors have to follow:

1. There has to be a no-purchase necessary clause in the guidelines.

2. The sweepstakes must have specific beginning and end dates.

3. The eligibility requirements must be clearly mentioned.

4. The sweepstakes must have proper instructions on how to enter.

5. There must be specifications regarding the number of entrants allowed.

6. The sweepstakes must clarify the chances of winning.

7. The value of the prizes must be kept transparent and open to the entrants.

8. The process of winner confirmation must be clearly explained to the entrants.

9. If there are any restrictions in winning, it must be stated.

10. The sweepstakes must provide information on the sponsor, including their name and address.

How to enter a sweepstake?

The process of entering a sweepstake is quite simple. You can enter the sweepstake of your choice through online or offline means. There are many popular sweepstakes in the United States and the process for entering these sweepstakes are mentioned in the official websites in plain and easy-to-understand language.

Are sweepstakes the same as contests?

Sweepstakes are different from contests. There is a major difference between the two. Contests require you to have certain skills. Sweepstakes do not require any kind of skill. Sweepstakes are run by random selection of winners. Contest winners are declared by judges on the basis of specific criteria.


  • Judith Peterson

    I am a journalist and content creator who has a passion to learn new things and share it with my readers. I specialize in researching about brands, products and services to share an honest review about them with the audience.

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