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The Daily Meal's Year Of #PorkByFork Sweepstakes

The Daily Meal's Year Of #PorkByFork Sweepstakes

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Oscar Mayer has long been known as the standard-bearer for hot dogs and cold cuts, and they’ve upped the ante even more with the recent release of their Carving Board series of turkey, roast beef, and ham. Some recent additions to that roster have really caught our eye, though, and we’re offering you the opportunity to try them. For free. For an entire year.

Their new offering of pulled porkcomes in two varieties: Hickory Smoke and Sweet and Spicy. The Hickory Smoke has a pronounced smoke flavor, and there are even big chunks of bark (the smoky outer crust) in every 11.5-ounce container. They both make for a great lunch or dinner: just add in some sauce, pop it in the microwave, and pile it up on some bread. Or, you can take the Pork by Fork approach: toss the pork into a bag of chips with some sauce and add-ins of your choice (we’d recommend shredded cheese and coleslaw), give it all a crunch and a stir, and eat it right out of the bag with a fork. Tweet out your recipe using the hashtag #porkbyfork!

As an added bonus, the first 225 people per day to follow Oscar Mayer and tweet with the hash tag #PorkByFork will get a $2-off coupon valid toward Carving Board Pulled Pork (lasts until December 20). (No Purchase Necessary. Open to residents of the 50 U.S. and D.C. who have a public Twitter account and follow @OscarMayer. Ends: 11:59 pm ET on 12/20/12. For details visit


Step 1: Follow us on Twitter between 2PM on Dec. 14 and 6PM on Dec. 21!

Step 2: Tweet "I just entered to win a year’s supply of @OscarMayer pulled pork from @thedailymeal & @sirmyers! Go here: #porkbyfork" or clicking the "Tweet to enter" button below.

Step 3: That’s it! keep checking our Twitter updates, where we’ll announce the winner!

The Daily Meal Year Of #PorkByFork Sweepstakes


1. How to Enter: The Daily Meal Year Of #PorkByFork Sweepstakes (the “Sponsor”) begins at 2:00 PM EST (Eastern Time (“EST”) on December 14, 2012 and ends at 6:00 PM EST on December 21, 2012 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). To Enter: Submit an entry on the Sponsor’s Twitter page by ‘following’ @thedailymeal on Twitter ( and @SirMyers on Twitter ( and by re-tweeting the The Daily Meal Year Of #PorkByFork Sweepstakes story link posted during the Entry period. The “Sponsor” will not verify receipt of entries. All entries submitted become the sole property of the Sponsor, and not of Twitter, and will not be acknowledged or returned. The Sweepstakes is governed by OurSite’s privacy policy, which is available on the Web Site.
Entries generated by a script, macro, or other automated means will be disqualified. Entries that are incomplete, garbled, corrupted, or unintelligible for any reason, including, but not limited to, computer or network malfunction or congestion, are void and will not be accepted. In case of a dispute over the identity of an entrant who made a potentially winning entry, Sponsors reserve the right to deem that the entry was made by the registered subscriber of the email address submitted at the time of entry. Entry constitutes permission (except where prohibited by law) to use entrant’s name, city, state, likeness, image, and/or voice for purposes of advertising, promotion, and publicity in any and all media now or hereafter known, throughout the world in perpetuity, without additional compensation, notification, permission, or approval.

2. Eligibility: To be eligible for The Daily Meal Year Of #PorkByFork Sweepstakes, only one account may be used per person to tweet an entry, and the contestant may only enter one time during the campaign. All tweets must include the @thedailymeal and @sirmyers handles so the sponsor can track the tweets. To enter the Sweepstakes you must be a lawful permanent resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia and be 21 years of age or older as of December 14, 2012. Sweepstakes is void outside of the 50 United States (and the District of Columbia), in Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths, and where restricted or prohibited by law. The Sweepstakes, and any web site pages and advertisements relating thereto, is intended for viewing only within the United States. You are not authorized to participate in the Sweepstakes if you are not located within the United States. Employees of Sponsor, Oscar Mayer and other participating partners, their affiliated companies, parents, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, (collectively, “Sweepstakes Entities”), and their immediate families and members of their households, are ineligible to participate in this Sweepstakes.

3. Drawing and Notification: The Grand Prize Winner(s) will be selected from all eligible entries received in a random drawing held on or about December 27th, 2012 by the sponsor, whose decisions are final and binding in all respects. Odds of winning a prize depends upon the number of eligible entries received. The potential Winner will be notified by email and/or mail within approximately two (2) days of the drawing. If a potential winner cannot be reached within two (2) calendar days from the first notification attempt, then such person shall be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected.

4. Prizes: 1 (One) Years Supply of Oscar Mayer Carving Board Pulled Pork. Approximate retail value of the Grand Prize is approximately $100.00. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value if the Grand Prize cannot be awarded as described for any reason. Taxes, gratuities and other expenses not specifically identified in these Official Rules are the sole responsibilities of the Grand Prize Winner. No transfer or substitution for the prize allowed except at Sponsor’s sole discretion

5. Prize Conditions: Prize Winners will be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability Release and a Publicity Release (“Affidavit/Release”). Such documents must be returned by the date and/or time indicated within such documents. If the potential Prize Winners fail to return such documents within that time, or if an entrant is found to be ineligible, or if he/she does not comply with the Official Rules, then the potential prize winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected. If prize notification is returned as undeliverable, this will result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. All federal, state or other tax liabilities (including income taxes) arising from this Sweepstakes will be the sole responsibility of the Prize Winners. Except where prohibited by law, the Prize Winners’ entry and acceptance of the Prize constitutes permission for the Sweepstakes Entities to use said prize winners’ names, photographs, likeness, statements, biographical information, voice, and city and state address on a worldwide basis, and in all forms of media, in perpetuity, without further compensation.

6. Sweepstakes Conditions: This Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which shall be final and waive any right to claim ambiguity in the Sweepstakes or these Official Rules. The Prize Winners and entrants also agree to release, discharge, indemnify and hold harmless the Sweepstakes Entities and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents from and against any claims, damages or liability due to any injuries, damages or losses to any person (including personal injury or death) or property of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, misuse or use of the respective prize or participation in any Sweepstakes-related activity or participation in this Sweepstakes, or any claims based on rights of publicity, rights of privacy and/or merchandise delivery.

7. Notification and Requirements of Potential Winner: Potential winners will be announced after the Entry Period as they are selected. An individual is not deemed a winner unless and until he/she has complied with these Official Rules regardless of whether he/she has been announced as a winner on Twitter or in any other forum. The Sponsor will also send the potential winner a direct message from @thedailymeal to the potential winner’s Twitter account used to enter the Sweepstakes with instructions on how to claim the prize. In order to receive a message from Sponsor, Entrant must (a) be following @thedailymeal and (b) have his or her account settings set to “unprotected” and/or “public.” If a potential winner does not respond and comply with the instructions in the message within the defined days detailed in the message or is not in compliance with these Official Rules, he/she will forfeit the prize and Sponsor may select an alternate potential winner in his/her place in a random drawing of all eligible entries received, if time permits. Except where prohibited, a potential winner may be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release (the “Affidavit/Release”). If a potential winner fails to sign and return the Affidavit/Release within the required time period, an alternate entrant will be selected in his/her place in a random drawing of all remaining eligible entries received, if time permits. By participating, each winner, except where legally prohibited, grants permission for Sponsor, The Daily Meal, and their respective designees to announce his/her name on Twitter as the winner and to use his/her name, address (city and state), photograph, voice and/or other likeness and prize information for advertising, trade and promotional purposes without further compensation, in all media now known or hereafter discovered, worldwide in perpetuity, without notice or review or approval.

8. General Conditions: Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to suspend, modify or terminate the Sweepstakes in the event that the operation, security, or administration of the Sweepstakes is impaired in any way, including, but not limited to by fraud, virus, unauthorized human intervention or other technical problem. If terminated, Sponsor may, at its discretion, award any unawarded prizes at random from among all non-suspect, eligible entries received up to the time of the impairment. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or to be acting in violation of these Official Rules or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner and void all associated entries. Any attempt by any person to undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages and other remedies (including attorneys’ fees) from any such person to the fullest extent permitted bylaw. Failure by Sponsor to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. In the event of a dispute regarding entries received from multiple users having the same e-mail account, the authorized subscriber of the e-mail account at the time of entry will be deemed to be the entrant and must comply with these rules. Authorized account subscriber is the natural person who is assigned the e-mail address by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), on-line service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning e-mail addresses.

9. Release and Limitations of Liability: By participating in the Sweepstakes, entrant agrees to release and hold harmless to The Daily Meal (“Sponsor”), Oscar Mayer, their employees, and/or other companies associated with the Sweepstakes (including any advertising and promotion agencies), and their employees, respective parent companies, affiliates and subsidiaries as well as the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings, and children) and household members of each such employee from and against any claim or cause of action arising, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, out of participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use of any prize (including any travel or activity-related thereto). Released Parties are not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, stolen, delayed, misdirected, undelivered, or garbled tweets or direct messages; or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Sweepstakes, the conducting of the live feed or the sending of tweets, the announcement of the prizes, or in any Sweepstakes-related materials. Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes. Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to participants' or to any other person's computer related to or resulting from participating in this Sweepstakes or downloading materials from or use of the website. Entrant agrees that in any cause of action, the Released Parties’ liability will be limited to the cost of entering and participating in the Sweepstakes, and in no event shall the Released Parties be liable for attorney’s fees or other legal costs. Entrant waives the right to claim any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages.

10. Winners List: For the names of the winners (available after January 3, 2013), send a self- addressed stamped envelope to: Spanfeller Media Group, Attention: Winners List, 156 5th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, New York, 10010

Kraft Foods is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to us. This program is not administered or sponsored by Kraft Foods or its affiliates, but solely by The Daily Meal.


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A 7-Day, 1,200-Calorie Meal Plan

Follow this, and you'll slim down and still feel satisfied.

When it comes to all things weight loss, the simplest, fastest way to make impactful, lasting change is to form habits you can actually stick with for life. That&rsquos why this plan involves an easy-to-follow meal planning guide. This full week of healthy (and delicious!) food will take the guesswork out of grocery shopping and prepping with nutritionist-approved breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas. If you have a higher activity level, check out these 1,300-, 1,400-, 1,500-, and 1,800-calorie meal plans as well.

Truth: Long-term weight loss requires making healthy food choices on the regular. But if you're looking to lose weight and need some menu ideas, we&rsquove consulted with registered dietitians on this simple 1,200-calorie meal plan for 7 days.

We also want to note that weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects &mdash before deciding to go on this diet, we invite you gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.

While 1,200 calories may be the right amount for some people, it can be very restrictive for others, says Stefani Sassos, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, Registered Dietitian for the Good Housekeeping Institute. That&rsquos why we&rsquore using 1,200 as our base, and encourage you to build upon these meal and snack ideas by doubling (or tripling, quadrupling &hellipyou get the point!) up on veggies at any opportunity &mdash and adding more fruit at snack time, too. You can also add 1-5 ounces of protein at all meals if at any point you&rsquore feeling like it&rsquos just not enough food to keep you satisfied. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that&rsquoll help you lose weight safely &mdash one meal at a time! And you can consider complementing this plan with a daily multivitamin too.

Learn more about how to safely lose weight and love the food you're eating with 1,200 Calories and More: The Complete Guide to Building Your Perfect Weight-Loss Meal Plan from Good Housekeeping &mdash choose from our 14-day, 21-day, and 28-day menu plans.

Mussels are a shellfish too often overlooked by home cooks, but there is absolutely no need to leave their preparation strictly to a professional kitchen. In this collection of our best mussel recipes, you'll discover that these delectable little bivalves cook quickly, are easy to prepare, and are also surprisingly economical. Perhaps best of all, mussels are a sustainable seafood: Whether farmed or wild-foraged, mussels are a renewable resource, which means they're something you can feel good about eating and feeding your family.

Their glamorous packaging also shouldn't be ignored: A morsel of mussel meat inside a glossy shell is revealed when the mollusk transforms magically into a black-winged butterfly the second it is cooked. Mussels are also nutritious, with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and even vitamin C.

The quintessential mussels recipe must be moules marinieres. A bowl of these piping hot mussels in a steaming broth conjures up instant French bistro. If you need a prescription for a culinary holiday, we recommend cooking up a potful and diving in. For extra authenticity, use the first, hinged mussel shell as pair of nippers to delicately extract the meat from all the others. It's the ultimate cosmopolitan comfort food, with a rustic touch. To turn an intimate evening into a party transform those moules marinieres into moules frites with our crisp oven-fries, pictured here. Just don't forget to whip up a bowl of garlic mayonnaise for dipping!

While you really need never venture beyond those storied dishes, we have curated our most mouthwatering mussel recipes to show you how to prepare mussels in many other ways, and much more than once a year.

The BTS Meal, with sauces inspired by South Korean recipes, coming to McDonald’s in May

K-Pop superstars BTS have partnered with McDonald’s to offer the band’s favorite order starting May 26.

The BTS Meal, announced using french fries to emulate the group’s iconic logo, includes a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries and medium Coke, complete with Sweet Chili and Cajun dipping sauces inspired by popular McDonald’s South Korea recipes, available in the United States for the first time ever.

The BTS Meal will hit the U.S. on May 26 at participating restaurants and will be available globally in nearly 50 countries. BTS was represented by Loeb & Loeb’s Debbie White in the deal.

“The band has great memories with McDonald’s,” BTS’ label Big Hit Music said in a statement. “We’re excited about this collaboration and can’t wait to share the BTS Meal with the world.”

The BTS collab is the latest installment of McDonald’s Famous Orders program, which featured partnerships with J Balvin and Travis Scott, whose order marked the first celebrity meal at the fast-food chain since Michael Jordan’s 1992 McJordan burger.

The Travis Scott Meal, which included a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, lettuce, pickles, ketchup and mustard medium fries (with BBQ Sauce for dipping) and a Sprite, was accompanied by a popular merchandise line and led to a viral TikTok trend in which customers pulled up to the drive-thru blasting the artist’s hit song “Sicko Mode.” According to USA Today, the Travis Scott Meal contributed to a shortage in key ingredients at McDonald’s due to overwhelming demand.

Last year, the fast-food chain teased out other famous orders in a Super Bowl commercial that features real-life celebrity orders from Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Whoopi Goldberg, Magic Johnson, Keith Urban and more.

BTS is comprised of members J-Hope, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM, V and SUGA.

Win Free Food with These Sweepstakes and Contests

Food sweepstakes give you the chance to win prizes like meals at your favorite restaurants, free chocolate and candy bars, free grocery store shopping sprees, and much more. Enter to win food sweepstakes today.

Are you interested in more ways to get free food? Visit 8 Ways to Eat for Free.

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7-Day Heart-Healthy Meal Plan: 1,200 Calories

Keep your heart healthy and lose weight with this delicious 1,200-calorie meal plan.

A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to protect against heart disease. In fact, incorporating heart-healthy foods, exercising more, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking can help reduce cardiovascular disease-related deaths by 50 percent. With this simple 1,200-calorie meal plan, you&aposll protect your heart and lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week in the process.

The meals and snacks in this਍iet plan feature heart-healthy foods recommended for a cardiac diet, like fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean protein and fats like olive oil and avocado (see our full list of top 15 heart-healthy foods to eat). Saturated fat, added sugars and sodium (nutrients that can harm your heart in large amounts) are kept to a minimum and instead, dishes are seasoned with lots of herbs and spices to keep things flavorful and exciting.  With this simple meal plan, you&aposll have healthy meals for the week at the ready!

Looking for a different calorie level? See this same meal plan at 1,500 and 2,000 calories.

The Best 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan

This healthy 1,200-calorie weight-loss meal plan for diabetes makes it easy to balance your blood sugar.

Eating healthy with diabetes is easy and delicious with this 7-day diabetes diet plan. The simple meals and snacks that makes this plan so simple and realistic to follow feature the best foods for diabetes, like complex carbohydrates (think whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables), lean protein and healthy fats. The carbohydrates are balanced throughout each day with each meal containing 2-3 carb servings (30-45 grams of carbohydrates) and each snack containing around 1 carb serving (15 grams of carbohydrates). To help keep your blood sugar from spiking too high too quickly, we limited refined carbohydrates (like white bread, white pasta and white rice) and have also cut down on saturated fats and sodium, which can negatively impact your health if you eat too much.

What we definitely didn&apost skimp on is flavor. The meals and snacks in this diet plan feature fresh ingredients and plenty of herbs and spices that add flavor without adding extra sodium. Eating with diabetes doesn&apost need to be difficult𠅌hoose a variety of nutritious foods, as we do in this diet meal plan, and add in daily exercise for a healthy and sustainable approach to managing diabetes

See all our our healthy meal plans for diabetes and don&apost miss our collection of delicious diabetes-friendly recipes.

The Endless Work of Trying to Win Yourself a New Life

Illustration by Tara Jacoby

Dave Taube has won a computer, a whitewater rafting trip, and several grills. There’s also the kayak, the powder-blue Coors Light onesie, and the Bruce Springsteen tickets. He recently took home $10,000 from Cost Plus World Market in its “World of Joy” sweepstakes. Recently, he found himself in the running for a trip to Antarctica, which would be the thirty-sixth vacation he’s won. His photo and caption, submitted in response to the prompt, “Tell us what you miss about international travel,” got enough votes to make the top 20. Next, the entries went to judging. In Taube’s photo, he’s slung with cameras and wearing safari duds, half-smiling, with a silver goatee. Strategically, he submitted his caption as a poem to make his entry distinct.

I miss the thrill of booking flights, traveling far and climbing heights. I miss the joy of photo taking, exotic foods and memory making. COVID made my life unravel, now I really need to travel. So for some fun and elation, Antarctica’s my destination!

Taube, who is 65 and a decades-long resident of the Pacific Northwest, is a sweeper, a term that distinguishes the committed competitor from the casual, onetime entrant. Each day, he enters about 60 sweepstakes—which are random draws—and contests—which are judged. Sponsors range from his local pizza place to national corporations like Nordstrom. Taube dials radio stations to be the 102nd caller, and texts daily keywords like football and BBQ. He enters his contact information into online forms. He posts entries on Facebook and Instagram, then solicits the votes necessary to win by direct messaging allies—a collection of other sweepers who trade favors.

Once, for a Cheez-It contest, Taube submitted a wine-and-Cheez-It pairing: Rosé with white cheddar. (His winnings: wine and Cheez-Its.) Years ago, he entered a contest for “the most boring person in the Pacific Northwest.” He won a whitewater rafting trip, a plane ride, and a certificate for a tandem parachute jump. He sold the certificate.

Taube wins a lot. Each year, he comes out on top in—he estimates—70 to 100 competitions. Of those, perhaps three to five are worth $1,000 or more. He doesn’t have a traditional full-time job, and hasn’t since 1990.

The winning takes time—about two hours a day for Carolyn Wilman, the “Contest Queen.” When Coca Cola or Canada Dry run sweepstakes, Wilman “gets her butt outside” before the recycling trucks come, wearing rubber gloves and scouring her neighborhood’s bins. She unscrews the tops of bottles, looking for “instant win” codes. “You’ll write this article,” she told me, “and a lot of people will come to my website. They get all enthused, and then they realize how much work it is.”

Wilman says sweeping changed her life, and now she’s an eager evangelist. Search her name and you’ll find her likeness everywhere—on books, her podcast appearances, her interviews on websites with names like “Super Lucky”—curly hair cut short, often pictured in bold glasses and funky jewelry, beaming in every photo. Her first prize, won in 1990, was a pair of tickets to an ice show. (The man she took with her became her husband.) Today, eight cases of Gatorade sit in Wilman’s basement in Ontario, Canada, the remnants of a year’s supply. “You can win things you can’t afford,” she said, “or replace things you already spend money on”: shampoo, potato chips, or in her case, beverages. “I don’t want to buy drinks. Right? Because we have drinks,” she said matter-of-factly. You can also win certain experiences that “money can’t buy”: Wilman has met Sting and Michael Bublé.

This is part of the allure: What sweeping offers, to an astounding degree, is a certain kind of lifestyle enhancement, the opportunity for winners to eat meals, take trips, see games, meet celebrities, and enjoy luxuries they otherwise aren’t able to access. It gives them the dignity of the extravagant. The motto of one sweeping website, Sweeties, is literally “Win what you can’t afford!”

As in most plots to achieve the American dream, there are rules. In her book How to Win Cash, Cars, Trips and More!, Wilman tells you how to hit. There are lots of opportunities out there, so it’s best to narrow the field by setting goals. If you want a new washer-dryer set, enter for Best Buy gift cards, not shampoo. Always read the official rules, which are, in fact, legal texts. Know the eligibility requirements (some sweeps are only open to residents of certain states) and how many times you can enter (daily, weekly, only one time). Open up an email address just for entering. Make use of your online bookmarks. And like any good quasi-prosperity gospel, a sweeper has to get her mind right. The Contest Queen champions chakras and self-talk, karma and good energy. A better life is possible—with the right attitude. “Do you expect to win?” she asks her readers. “I do.”

The world of sweepers can feel small. A 2011 estimate calculated that 55 million people in the United States enter annually, but only a fraction of those are putting in the same hours as someone like Taube. On the internet, they scour aggregator websites, sharing leads and celebrating wins. They use directories like Sweepstakes Advantage , which has almost 60,000 followers on Facebook. They subscribe to long-running newsletters like SweepSheet , which has boasted as many as 12,000 members, and more boutique offerings like Tom Cavalli’s website iWinContests (a “community of Sweepers and Winners”). “Fifteen to 20 percent of our members wish that I would double the [subscription] price tomorrow,” Cavalli boasted to me, because they would rather “pay twice as much but have half as many people” with the same insider knowledge. The Annual National Sweepstakes Convention can draw more than hundreds. This year, it’s in Scottsdale . Of course, they’re giving away prizes.

Corporate contests fully emerged in the 1950s and ’60s, used by Madison Avenue marketers to source slogans while also selling products like toothpaste and tinfoil (every jingle or tagline submission required a proof of purchase). Contests rewarded not just wit, but other skills. Home cooks entered recipes to the Pillsbury Bake-Off high-school musicians sang and played in Coca Cola’s Talentsville competition. Gradually, random-draw sweepstakes, presumably easier to run, increased in popularity (though creative contests still generate material for sponsors). The Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes was launched in 1967 to help sell magazine subscriptions. McDonald’s Monopoly started in 1987, incentivizing fast food purchases via game-piece collection (the game was later embroiled in an embezzlement scandal).

Today, companies who run contests and sweepstakes wager that the value of “permission-based marketing”—addresses for mailers, emails for campaigns, social media accounts bloated with followers—will be well worth the cost of prizes over time, or the fee they pay a prize fulfillment company to run the sweepstakes for them. Eventually someone will buy something. Companies routinely make this bet : drink companies and snack companies and airlines and outdoor shops. Campbell’s soup and Jockey bras, VRBO and Tic Tacs and West Elm and Ford. “Four winners will get a leather sofa, a Sam Adams branded refrigerator, and a Pop-a-Shot basketball arcade game.” “Enter for a chance to win baby formula for a year! $1,200 prize value!” These prizes can look like magnanimity. For the sponsors, they’re often meager. Right now, Sour Patch Kids is giving away $50,000 cash: a transformational prize for many consumers but pocket change for the candy brand’s owner, Mondelez International, which in 2019 brought in $25.87 billion.

For serious sweepers, the hobby can be gig work. This isn’t true for everyone—some people are retired, or don’t need the money—but sweeping seems to attract those who find themselves outside of the traditional labor market, people for whom a little extra cash wouldn’t hurt. Some sweep single-mindedly, looking for electronics and cars they can resell, or gift cards they can spend. Wilman started sweeping in between marketing jobs after the dot-com bust: “It gave me something to do … because I was tired” of sending out résumés.

Her book includes some miraculous testimonies of people who were similarly down on their luck. Wendy was on disability, and her husband was out of work. When they won a new home, they’d just signed remortgage papers to pay off their debts. “This is my biggest win so far,” she wrote. “Like the words in Elton John’s song, SOMEONE SAVED MY LIFE TONIGHT.” Carmen’s husband was also out of work her part-time jobs weren’t bringing in enough, and everything in their home was in need of repair. On Christmas Eve, she slipped a batch of cookies into the oven and found the door wouldn’t close. She despaired: another broken appliance. Two minutes later, the story goes, a UPS truck pulled up. She’d won a $14,000 shopping spree at Sears, plus money to pay the taxes.

The Sears win is big—but some sweepstakes go even further, explicitly offering a whole new life. Not unlike the lotto—“Hey, you never know”—they draw on a certain kind of desire. The HGTV Dream Home contest, now in its twenty-fourth year, capitalizes on fantasy: What kind of parties would you throw if you had this kitchen? (The high can be short lived: Most HGTV Dream Home winners either take the cash alternative or sell their home back to the developer within a year of winning, unable to shoulder the tax burden.)

Much of this focus begins to feel intentional. Anecdotally, sweepers are more likely to be women, and more likely to be older (though some online options try to draw a younger crowd—there are sweeps and contests on Instagram, even TikTok). Some live on Social Security, or disability. Even small winnings save money over time. Tom Cavalli said he hasn’t had to pay his cable or cell phone bills in six years because he wins so many Visa, Mastercard, and American Express gift cards. Those savings can add up.

Stay-at-home moms are a recognized sweeper demographic. Wilman “used to breastfeed in front of the computer … click, click, click. I’d enter lots of toy contests.” Lauren, another sweeper, won a birthday package at a local play palace that saved her family from having to pay for a party. A gift card to Little Tikes bought toys for her church and a race car bed for her son. Taco Bell sweeps resulted in an Xbox and two PlayStations. “This hobby has been a huge blessing for my family,” she says. Every little bit helps for Cindy, a high school journalism teacher in Texas. “With two kids in college, any gift card is like winning the lottery.” Some websites (like Contests for Moms and Freebies 4 Mom) take advantage of this crossover and market accordingly, listing contests alongside recipes, craft ideas, and other hacks.

Some sweepers target cash prizes over material goods: They were laid off, or need student loan payments, or even financing for film projects. One sweeper lost out on a $10,000 prize because she was on vacation, and didn’t respond in time. “The ironic part is two days before we left for our vacation, my husband got into an accident with our car and it was totaled,” she wrote. They had no collision insurance. “The prize would have paid for a car with no payments.”

But as Wilman puts it: “You don’t win mortgage payments.” You win a year’s supply of Lay’s potato chips. You win a sweatshirt. Sweeping can’t supplant a regular paycheck, health insurance, or paid leave. Like any side hustle, it promises flexible, supplemental money—but it requires time, and the payoffs are unreliable.

It’s also easy to get discouraged. There’s a lot of losing, a lot of small perks and life-changing wins that seem to slip through one’s fingers. On the iWIN Facebook page, Cavalli advertised a class (“30 Things to Make Sweeper Life Easier”) and offered to give away a few admissions for free. The comments filled with need. “I’d be happier and other areas of my life would benefit from me becoming a more efficient sweeper. I want to win, win, win, I just want to stop giving up sleep to do so,” wrote one woman. “I need to make my sweeping life easier because it’s starting to impact my other life!” wrote another. The women bemoan their computer illiteracy, their disorganization, their mistakes, their wasted time.

That wasted time still translates to clicks, data, shares. It still pays off—just not for the sweeper. Realtime Media, a full-service digital promotions company, touts case studies of the sweepstakes it’s helped sponsors run. Royal Caribbean collected consumer data via a “fun profiling quiz” 35 percent of users booked a cruise after taking it. Maybelline gathered over 100,000 registrations for a makeup giveaway. Hershey got more than 800,000 registrations, plus a 22 percent social share rate, by giving away treats.

Nevertheless, the sweepers persist. Perhaps they can squeeze something for themselves out of those corporate marketing budgets. Perhaps they’ll be the lucky ones. Their sacrifices—time, attention, data—are costly, and yet they make them still, hoping that a little bit of capitalism’s excess will fall into their laps.

Sometimes, they’re successful. Take Dave Taube. He’s no victim—he’s victorious. His poem won that trip to Antarctica. He’s going to see whales, seals, and penguins he’s going to kayak between icebergs. He also recently won an air fryer. He sent it to the sweeper who tipped him off about the Antarctica opportunity. “I enjoy helping people who help me,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Katherine Lucky is an editor and writer based in the Bay Area. Her work is published in outlets including Commonweal, The Point, Slate, and The American Scholar.

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