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Dream whatever Giveaway - the math

I did it... I finally gave in to the pretty, pretty pictures and made a donation to New Beggining Children’s Homes so that I could have 60 chances (out of untold millions) to win two beautiful Corvettes, a C2 big block and a C7 Z06/Z07. Of course, I’m the type of person who always wonders if there’s a better way to do things, a faster, cheaper, and above all, more satisfying way to do things. I’m a reader of fine print, a peruser of the rules, and a ponderer of ways I can get what I want for the least amount of effort, money, and time.

After my quick donation of $35 to the NBCH (and use of code RX2015C to get double tickets), I regretted my hastiness and searched through the rules. When you pay money for this contest, you’re paying to donate to a charity - which is an admittedly noble purpose, and not to be discounted in and of itself - which they then award you chances at the prize depending on how much you donated. You are not buying chances, you’re helping others and being rewarded for your donation. Like with all such sweepstakes, they have to offer non-purchase avenues of participation, and they comply with this (thanks to many others before it, sweepstakes are heavily regulated in the US of A) by letting you get an entry without any donations (*ahem* purchase).

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I quickly dug for the fine print, and found the following on no purchase entries: “to receive an entry code without donating, mail one self-addressed postage paid envelope to NBCH P.O. Box 1388 Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-1388, (except Vermont residents are not required to affix return postage) Limit one entry code request per outer envelope. One entry code will be returned in the envelope provided to each mail-in request that complies with these requirements. Second, upon receipt of the entry code, Entrant must register the entry code into the particular drawing.” Let me translate this, in case you’re not into the legalese like our venerable Mr Lehto - if you want to enter without purchase (sorry, donation), you have to send one and only one self-addressed stamped envelope (no return stamp required if you live in Vermont) inside an envelope to their Iowa PO Box, they send you a code back which you enter into their website, and that gives you one entry into the sweepstakes.

If you’re doing the math in your head, it’s ingenious, but for those of you reaching for the calculators (I’m not being insulting, remember, I donated before doing the same), here’s the breakdown: my donation was $35 for 60 entries, or $0.583 per entry... or I could buy two stamps at $.49 apiece (plus two envelopes, printer ink, and the time to mail it, get it back, and enter the code into a website) to get a “free, no purchase” code on one entry. Even without the stuff in parentheses, the stamps alone cost almost double what my price per entry did. Ingenious! They follow the law, but make it cost more and you can’t even congratulate yourself afterwards for making a charitable donation (or getting the tax refund on it, to boot). The problem (and where I’m slapping my forehead saying I should have done the math before I impulse “donated”) is that even as cheap as $0.583 repeating per entry is, I could have gotten a much better deal if I had looked further up the donation tree. Here’s how it breaks down (using the double ticket code, above, of course):

$20 for 30 tickets - $0.66666

$35 for 60 tickets - $0.58333

$50 for 80 tickets - $0.625

$75 for 130 tickets - $0.5769230769

$100 for 200 tickets - $0.50

$150 for 330 tickets - $0.454545

$200 for 480 tickets - $0.41666 (it repeats from here on out, staying at the exact price per entry all the way up to $5,000 for 12,000 entries)

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I’m one of those who likes to do the math. Sometimes you find out surprising things when you do it. If you do make donations for the chance to win some of the fine vehicles in this sweepstakes (I like the Corvettes, obviously, but I wouldn’t turn up my nose at the Challengers or the Mustangs), you know you’re doing some good in the world as well. They’ve definitely rigged the contest to make donating far more intelligent than trying the government mandated non-purchase way.

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