A Complete Guide: What Is a Sweepstakes Entry and How It Works?

What is a sweepstakes entry? In short, a sweepstakes entry allows participants to enter the giveaway by providing their personal information, such as name, address, and email. This information is used to contact the winner of the sweepstakes.

However, not all sweepstakes entries are created equal. Different types of sweepstakes entries may have varying rules and requirements. Want to know about them in detail? Don’t worry. I will help you. Go through this blog to learn about everything about sweepstakes entry.

what is a sweepstakes entry

What Is a Sweepstakes Entry?

Sweepstakes are giveaways where participants enter for a chance to win a prize. Sweepstakes entries are the means through which individuals participate in the giveaway.

Sweepstakes entries can take different forms, and they vary from company to company or organization to organization. A sweepstakes is a type of promotion that includes a chance to win prizes like cash, a trip, a home makeover, a car, a voucher, a gift card, a free service, or other valuable items. 

Unlike other contests, sweepstakes don’t require any purchase to enter the competition. Instead, an individual enters the contest by providing their personal information, as mentioned earlier. Some common types of entries include: 

  • Online Entry: This is the most common type of sweepstakes entry, where participants fill out a form on a website or social media platform to enter the contest.
  • Mail-in Entry: Some sweepstakes may allow participants to mail in their entry by sending a postcard or letter with their personal information. This type of entry may require participants to handwrite their information, follow a specific format, or include a specific phrase on their entry.
  • Text Message Entry: With the rise of mobile phones, some sweepstakes allow participants to enter by sending a text message with their personal information. These entries usually have a limit on the number of entries allowed per day. 
  • Social Media Entry: Some sweepstakes may require participants to post or share a specific hashtag or tag the brand on social media to enter. This type of entry may also include following the brand’s social media page. 
  • In-person Entry: Some sweepstakes may also allow participants to enter by visiting a physical location and filling out an entry form. This type of entry is less common but can be found in events or store promotions. 

So, how do you enter sweepstakes? The method of entry will depend on the sweepstakes rules and requirements. Carefully read the official rules before entering any sweepstakes to ensure that you are following all guidelines. But make sure it is not a scam or fake sweepstakes.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are 3 signs of fake sweepstakes or giveaways.

  1.  Ask for payment in terms of taxes, shipping costs, or processing fees.
  2. Ask for payment to increase your chance of winning the prize.
  3. Ask for financial information, including bank account and credit card details.

If any sweepstakes asks for any of the above details, it is most likely a scam. Remember, legitimate sweepstakes do not require payment to enter or win.

Check out the below video content for more detail explanation on pointing the fake sweepstakes.

Why Is It Called Sweepstakes?

You know, in sweepstakes, individuals participate for a chance to win valuable prizes (free). There is no entry fee or purchase requirement to enter. Such free entry makes it accessible to anyone who wishes to try their luck. The origin of the name “sweepstakes” dates back to the late 14th century when it referred to someone who “sweeps” or takes all the stakes in a game, typically in gambling contexts like horse racing.

Over time, the term evolved to refer to contests where people could enter for a chance to win a variety of prizes. Sweepstakes are attractive to many people because of their simplicity and accessibility. 

To enter a sweepstakes, individuals typically need to provide basic personal information such as name, address, and email address. In most cases, it is also necessary to confirm that the entrant is over the age of 18.

Additionally, sweepstakes have several rules that must be followed to ensure fairness and transparency. Firstly, sweepstakes must be open to all individuals of legal age, regardless of which state or country they reside in. Secondly, sponsors of sweepstakes must provide clear and accurate information about the contest, including the start and end dates, the prizes, and the rules for entering. They must also specify how the winners will be selected and notified.

How Does a Sweepstakes Work? [Rules & Regulations]

A sweepstake is nothing but a chance of winning something. So you can say it’s upon your luck. Once all participants enter the sweepstakes, the winner is picked randomly. To randomly choose the winner, organizations use computer programs or random number generators to ensure a fair selection process.

Sweepstakes have clear rules and regulations that both the participants and the sponsors must follow. These rules ensure fairness and transparency in the selection of winners. Some common rules include:


Most sweepstakes are only open to individuals above the age of 18. Some may have additional restrictions, such as being a legal resident of a specific country or state. Carefully read the eligibility requirements before entering a sweepstakes. Also, make sure you meet the age and other criteria before entering.

No Purchase Necessary: 

As mentioned earlier, sweepstakes do not require any purchase or fee to enter. If a sweepstake requires participants to make a purchase, it can be considered illegal and can result in penalties for the sponsors. It is better to go through the local laws and regulations before hosting a sweepstakes. 

Alternate Means of Entry: 

As per the law, sponsors must provide an alternate means of entry if requested by participants. This can include entering by mail or phone in addition to the online method. However, sponsors can limit the number of entries allowed through the alternate means.

Fulfillment of Prizes: 

Sponsors must fulfill all promised prizes to the winners within a reasonable timeframe, as specified in the rules. This is essential for maintaining trust and credibility with participants. 

Compliance with Laws: 

Sweepstakes must comply with all local, state, and federal laws to ensure legality. This includes obtaining any necessary permits or licenses before hosting a sweepstake. Non-compliance can result in legal consequences for the sponsors.

Clear Statements: 

All rules and regulations must be clearly stated in the sweepstakes information and made easily accessible to participants. This includes details on how the winner will be selected, when and how they will be notified, and how prizes will be fulfilled.

Have a Deadline: 

Sweepstakes must have a clear start and end date, with no entries accepted after the deadline. This ensures fairness to all participants and avoids any confusion.

5 Types of Sweepstake Example

What is a sweepstake example? Here are examples of different types of sweepstakes examples. These examples will help you to have more clear idea about sweepstakes.  

Social Media Giveaways

First off, let’s talk about the sweepstakes you’ve probably stumbled upon while scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. You know the drill: “Like this post, tag three friends, and you could win a $100 gift card!” 

These sweepstakes are super easy to enter, but here’s the kicker: you’re often required to follow the account hosting the giveaway, which helps them gain more followers. So, in essence, your entry serves a dual purpose: a shot at winning and a boost for the host’s online presence.


  • Follow the host’s account
  • Like the sweepstake post
  • Tag friends in the comments

In-Store Sweepstakes

Walking into a store, you might see a colorful box near the checkout counter with entry forms spilling out. Just jot down your info, drop it in the box, and boom—you’re in! Businesses use these types of sweepstakes to create buzz and encourage repeat visits.


  • One entry per visit
  • Must fill out the form manually
  • No purchase necessary

Online Surveys or Entries

You’ve seen them—those pop-ups that say, “Take this quick survey for a chance to win an iPad!” Websites use these sweepstakes to collect consumer data. The catch is you have to provide detailed feedback or personal information.


  • Must complete the entire survey
  • Valid email address required
  • Limited to one entry per person

Text-to-Win Contests

Imagine this: you’re at a sporting event, and the Jumbotron flashes, “Text ‘WIN’ to 12345 for a chance to score a free jersey!” It’s quick, it’s convenient, and you don’t even have to leave your seat. However, standard text messaging rates apply, so keep that in mind.


  • One entry per mobile number
  • Standard SMS charges apply
  • The winner will be notified via text

Mail-In Sweepstakes

Last but not least, we have the good ol’ mail-in sweepstakes. Despite the digital age, these are still around! You usually have to fill out a form or even just send a postcard with your details. No bells or whistles, but they’re often less competitive because, let’s face it, they’re kind of old-school.


  • Handwritten entries only
  • Must include a return address
  • Limited to one entry per envelope

What Are the Benefits of Sweepstakes?

Sweepstakes aren’t just fun and games; they offer real perks for both those who enter and those who host them. Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty and see what’s in it for each side.

Benefits for Participants

Who doesn’t love the idea of winning something cool with minimal effort? But hang on, there’s more to it than that. Let’s break down the good stuff for those who throw their hat in the ring.

Chance to Win Prizes

First and foremost, let’s state the obvious—you get a chance to win something! Whether it’s cash, a gift card, or even a vacation, the sky’s the limit. It’s like a mini-lottery, but often without the need to buy a ticket.

Exposure to New Brands

Let’s say you enter a sweepstake to win a free makeup kit. Even if you don’t win, you’ve now discovered a new brand you might like. So, in a way, every entry is like a small window into something new and exciting.

Builds Community

Believe it or not, sweepstakes have fan bases. There are online forums and groups where people share new sweepstakes and tips on entering. So you’re not just winning; you’re connecting!

Low Risk, High Reward

The beautiful thing about most sweepstakes is that they’re free to enter. So your investment is little to none, but the payout could be huge. Talk about a win-win!

Benefits for Hosts

On the flip side, hosting a sweepstakes isn’t just about giving stuff away. There are gains to be had, making it a win-win for everyone involved. Why do companies use sweepstakes? Here are the reasons-

Increases Brand Awareness

Hosting a sweepstake is like putting your brand on a billboard, but it is way more interactive. People not only see your name but engage with it, giving your brand valuable exposure.

Boosts Customer Engagement

Ask anyone to like, share, or comment, and suddenly, your brand becomes a hot topic. It’s a quick and easy way to make your social media platforms more lively and engaging.

Collects Valuable Data

Online sweepstakes often require entrants to fill out a form or take a survey. That means you get important info about your target audience, which is like gold for future marketing campaigns.

Encourages Brand Loyalty

Even if they don’t win this time, participants will likely keep an eye out for your next sweepstake. This keeps them engaged with your brand, increasing the likelihood of future interactions or purchases.

How to Host a Sweepstake?

If you want to dip your toe into the world of sweepstakes and host one yourself, here are some tips to get you started.

Know the Rules

As outlined above, some rules apply to all sweepstakes. Familiarize yourself with them so you can ensure a fair and legal contest. 

Determine the Prize

The prize is the main attraction, so make it something desirable. It could be a product or service you offer or team up with another brand to create an even more alluring reward. You should also consider the value of the prize about any entry requirements. For example, if you’re asking for personal information, the prize should be something significant.

Decide on Entry Requirements

You can go with a simple follow-and-like combo or get creative with it. Just remember to make it clear and easy for people to enter. And always include a way for participants to opt out of future communications. Never ask for any financial information or anything too personal.

Spread the Word

What’s a sweepstake without any participants? Make sure to promote your contest on social media, through email newsletters, and on your website. You could also team up with influencers to reach a wider audience. The more buzz you create, the more entries you’ll get.

Announce the Winner

Make sure your contest has an end date and announce the winner shortly after. You don’t want to keep people waiting too long, or they may lose interest in your brand. And be sure to congratulate the winner publicly. It’s a nice way to show appreciation for their participation.

FAQs on Sweepstakes

What is a sweepstakes in marketing?

A sweepstakes is a promotional contest or giveaway used by companies as a marketing tool to attract new customers and engage with existing ones. It’s often used as a way to increase brand awareness and collect valuable data from participants.

What is the difference between sweepstakes and raffles?

Sweepstakes and raffles both involve randomly selecting a winner, but they differ in how to enter. In a sweepstake, the winner is selected through luck or chance without any consideration, whereas in a raffle, participants typically purchase tickets or lotteries for a chance to win. In simple words, sweepstakes have no entry fee, while raffles usually require payment.  

Is sweepstake and giveaway the same?

In short, all sweepstakes are giveaways, but not all giveaways are sweepstakes. To enter a sweepstake, you simply need to submit your entry, and if luck is on your side, you can become the winner. However, when it comes to giveaways, you’ll find various types like photo contest giveaways, writing contest giveaways, best story contests, and more. These are all types of giveaway contests where participants compete for the win. Giveaways differ from sweepstakes because winners aren’t selected randomly.

How to win sweepstakes?

There is no shortcut to win sweepstakes since winners are selected at random. Your best bet is to enter as many legitimate sweepstakes as you can, follow the rules, and keep your fingers crossed. Remember that the more you enter, the higher your chances of winning. Just make sure to avoid any scams or suspicious contests.

Read also: Do people actually win sweepstakes?


Now you have a detailed understanding of sweepstakes and what they have to offer. They’re an exciting way to win free stuff, engage with brands, and even build communities. So next time you see a “Chance to Win!” banner, why not give it a go? You never know—you might just strike gold! So, keep your eyes peeled for the latest sweepstakes popping up in your area or online. Who knows? The next big winner could be you! 

Keep entering, and good luck! And remember, there’s always another opportunity waiting just around the corner. Enjoy the fun and excitement of participating in different types of sweepstakes, and maybe one day, you’ll be the lucky winner!

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