What Happens When You Win a Sweepstakes? 10 Things

What happens when you win a sweepstakes? You’ll receive a winning notification via various channels such as email, message, postal mail, social media shout-out, or phone call. Make sure to claim your prize within the specified time frame mentioned in the notification letter.

Read on to learn more about the process and what to expect when you win a sweepstakes.

what happens when you win a sweepstakes

What Happens When You Win a Sweepstakes? 10 Things

Winning a sweepstakes is an exciting moment. You may wonder what comes next and what happens after receiving that coveted winning notification. In this section, I’ll dive into the details of the process and give you a better understanding of what to expect when you win a sweepstakes.

#1. Receiving the winning notification

Do you know how the winner is sweepstake winner is selected? Sweepstakes winners are chosen randomly, and the selection process can vary depending on the sweepstake rules. Once your entry is selected, you’ll receive a notification about your win. 

The type of notification can vary depending on the sweepstake organizer. 

Email Notification

If you win a sweepstake, you might receive an email notifying you of your victory. It’s usually the most common way to get notified. Keep an eye out for an email with the subject line “Congratulations! You’re a Winner!” The sweepstake organizer typically sends it and may include necessary instructions regarding claiming your prize. And don’t miss to check your spam folder, just in case.

Postal Mail or Registered Mail Notification

Some organizers may send a postal or registered mail notification to inform winners of their win. This may also include details on the process of claiming the prize and may require a signature upon delivery.

Social Media Shout Out

In today’s digital age, many sweepstakes are promoted through social media. If you win a sweepstake being run through a social media platform, you might receive a shout-out or direct message notifying you of your win. The organizer will mention your name or handle and may ask you to follow specific steps to receive the prize.

Phone Call Notification

Sometimes, you may receive a phone call informing you of your win. This is less common but can happen, especially for larger or more prestigious sweepstakes. The caller will typically provide information for claiming your prize and may ask for confirmation of your details to verify your identity.

#2. Verify you won the sweepstakes 

Before you get too excited and plan how to spend your winnings, ensure you’ve won the sweepstakes. Double-check the notification and the official rules to confirm that you are indeed a winner. Sometimes, organizers may send notifications to various entrants, but only one will be the winner. 

If you don’t verify your win, you may get disappointed and waste time and effort trying to claim a prize that isn’t yours. Also, there is a chance you will become the victim of a scam. So, be cautious and do your due diligence before proceeding with the claiming process.

How do you know if you won the sweepstakes? You can confirm your win by checking the winner’s list on the sweepstake organizer’s website social media pages or contacting them directly. By doing so, you can verify the prize also.

Check out the below video for more practical knowledge on knowing if you really won a sweepstakes.

#3. Read the instructions carefully

To claim the prize, you must read the instructions in the notification mail. The instructions may include steps to follow, required documents, and submission deadlines. Ensure you understand the process and complete all requirements accurately and on time.

For instance, a travel prize may require you to provide details of your passport and make arrangements for travel within a specific time frame. A cash prize may have tax implications you must be aware of before claiming the prize.

#4. Record the prize details

After verifying your win and reading the instructions, it’s essential to document all the prize details. This includes the sweepstake name, organizer information, prize description, approximate retail value (ARV), and other important information about claiming your prize. 

Keeping this information on hand will come in handy when submitting any necessary documents or communicating with the organizer throughout the claiming process. Also, it will help to track the progress and ensure everything is in order.

#5. Fill out an affidavit (If asked for)

Sometimes, when you win a sweepstakes, they ask you to fill out a form or declaration to confirm your identity and eligibility. This is a legal document that shows you’re qualified to participate. 

The form might also ask you to certify that you’ve read and understood the official rules and agree to follow them. 

They might also request your social security number. The organizer may need this document if any tax implications are tied to the prize.

#6. Get the affidavit notarized (If asked for)

If the affidavit requires notarization, make sure to get it done before submitting it. A notary public will verify your identity and witness your signature on the document. This step is usually required for higher-value prizes or sweepstakes involving travel.

#7. Return the affidavit (If asked for)

Once you’ve completed and notarized the affidavit, return it to the sweepstake organizer before the deadline. Failure to submit the required documents on time may result in disqualification or forfeiture of your prize.

Organizers may require you to return the affidavit by mail, email, or through an online form. Make sure to follow their instructions carefully and keep a record of when you submitted the document.

#8. Claim the prize

After ending all the necessary steps and submitting the required documents, it’s time to claim your prize! The organizer will usually send the prize within a specific period mentioned in the official rules. If you haven’t received your prize after the expected timeframe, contact the organizer for further assistance.

#9. Follow up

If you don’t receive your prize within the expected timeframe or encounter any issues during the claiming process, follow up with the organizer. Feel free to ask queries and seek clarification. The organizer wants to ensure that all winners receive prizes, so they will gladly assist you.

#10. Pay taxes

Do I need to pay taxes on my winnings? It’s a common question among sweepstakes winners. Well, in the United States, there’s one last step you need to take to claim your winnings. It’s a legal requirement to fulfill your tax obligations on the prizes you’ve received. 

It might not be the most exciting part, but according to U.S. law, any prize you win is considered income. So, it needs to be reported. Unlike gambling winnings, sponsors aren’t responsible for withholding any portion of your winnings. 

Here’s the important part: you must report all your winnings, whether big or small. Don’t fall for the misconception that prizes under $600 don’t need to be reported. That’s simply not true. While sponsors only provide tax forms for prizes of $600 or more, you, as the recipient, must report all your prizes, regardless of their value.

FAQs on What Happens When You Win a Sweepstakes

How to win sweepstakes?

Winning sweepstakes is a game of chance. However, there are a few things you can do while entering sweepstakes that will increase your chances of winning:

  1. Enter frequently: The more sweepstakes you participate in, your chances of winning are higher.
  2. Follow the rules: Make sure to read and follow the official rules of each sweepstake to avoid disqualification.
  3. Enter early: Some sweepstakes have an early bird deadline, which gives earlier entrants a better chance of winning.
  4. Enter local sweepstakes: Smaller, local sweepstakes usually have fewer participants, giving you a better chance to win.
  5. Enter by mail: Entering by mail may increase your chances of winning, as typically, only a small percentage of entries are received.

How long does it take to receive a sweepstake prize?

The timeframe for receiving a sweepstake prize varies depending on the sweepstake and the organizer. Some organizers may send out prizes immediately, while others may take up to 12 weeks or more. Read the official rules for specific details on expected delivery time.

Can I receive any sweepstakes prize without any notification?

Yes, in some cases, you may receive a prize without prior notification. In case of this surprise prize sweepstakes, all the necessary information will be collected on the entry form. Once the sweepstakes is over, sponsors will mail the prize directly to your address without prior notice. 

However, in the United States, sponsors must follow the law and declare any prize worth more than $600 to the IRS. To make it official, they’ll need an affidavit before they hand over the prize.

Are there any fees or costs involved in claiming a sweepstakes prize?

No, legitimate sweepstakes do not require payment or fees to claim a prize. If you are asked to pay taxes, shipping costs, or any other fee to receive your prize, it is most likely a scam.

What happens if I don’t submit the required documents by the deadline?

If you fail to submit the necessary documents by the deadline, you may risk disqualification or forfeiture of your prize. Make sure to carefully read the instructions and deadlines provided by the organizer to avoid missing out on your prize.

How will I know if my win is legitimate?

To ensure the legitimacy of a sweepstakes win, make sure to do your research on the organizer and verify their contact information. Legitimate sweepstakes will also have official rules and clear instructions on how to claim your prize. Feel free to contact the organizer for clarification if you have any doubts or concerns. 


Redeeming a sweepstakes prize may seem intimidating, but trust me, it’s doable! Just ensure to follow the instructions accordingly and double-check your win. It can be quite exciting and rewarding. Stay organized, provide accurate details, and keep in touch with the organizer throughout the process. And most importantly, enjoy the thrill of your well-deserved winnings!

Julia Nancy
Julia Nancy

I have vast experience arranging online voting contests for hundreds of clients worldwide in the last 8 years. I also helped countless clients to win their online competitions. Here, on royalvotes.com, I am just sharing knowledge from my experiences. If you need any help regarding the online contest, email me at julia@royalvotes.com