Good Morning America featured a story on sweepstakes clubs.

Enter to Win! More Americans Participate in Sweepstakes Clubs. Members Win Prizes, Form Lifelong Friendships.

Most people want to know why they should join a sweepstakes club. My answer is; it’s the hidden, priceless, joy of the hobby.

From 2001 until 2005 I had only met fellow contesters and sweepers online. In 2005 I attended the 16th Annual National Sweepstakes Convention (ANSC) in Moline IL. (All conventions are sponsored by a local sweepstakes club and run entirely on a volunteer basis. The 16th ANSC was sponsored by The Quad City Sweepers and hosted in Moline IL.) I will never forget the feeling of walking into the main convention hall filled with 600 fellow sweepers. The energy was amazing. I felt as if I belonged even though I had never met any of the other attendees. I turned to my ‘wasband’ Craig and said, “WOW! I am coming back every year!

And I did, as much as I was able to. I have been to 12 national conventions, and a heap of ‘minis’ since 2005.

Sweepstakes clubs aren’t new.

The Affadaisies (circa 2005)

The Affadaisies

Excerpt from You Can’t Win If You Don’t Enter:

Sweeping clubs have been around in the United States for decades. The Affadaisies are the most famous sweeping club having been featured in both the book and the movie, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.

Like me, Evelyn Ryan, the story’s heroine, was elated to discover the best part of entering contests and sweepstakes as a hobby is the people, not the wins. I have made contest buddies, sweeping pals, and life-long friends by attending club meetings and conventions.

Of course, my mother was elated to discover other women out in the world who share her love of contesting. Not that she felt alone in her efforts. She had subscribed for years to the two publications no contester would be without semimonthly Contest Magazine and bi-monthly Contest Worksheet, both of which announced upcoming contests, rules, and deadlines, and offered helpful hints and essays from consistent winners.

But Dortha was a living breathing contester, and Mom responded to her letter immediately with the name of the winning entry: My Frisk-the-Frigidaire, Clean-the-Cupboards-Bare Sandwich.

“Well, no wonder I came in second,” Dortha wrote in her next letter. “But I’m proud to say I also came in fourth.” (This was true. Dortha had won two of the top four prizes in a single contest.) “My fourth place winner was My Gastro-Comical, Tummy-Yummysome Sandwich,” Dortha wrote. “And my absolute favorite entry-My Ding-Dong-Double-Decked, Left-the-Kitchen-Wrecked Sandwich-didn’t win a thing.

“By the way, Evelyn, what did you do with the jukebox? Seeburg has offered me $400 or a color TV instead, but $400 doesn’t seem like enough money, and I’ve already won eleven televisions, so I sure don’t need another one.”

“Call up Augie Van Brackel,” was Mom’s advice. “He gave me $500 for my jukebox.”

Mom had found a soulmate. In addition to the eleven TVs, Dortha had won thirty-nine radios. And between the two of them, they had seventeen children, hundreds of product labels and box tops (called “qualifiers,” or “qualities,” in the contest biz), and a single approach to life: “No matter how many kids you have,” wrote Dortha, “I’m firmly convinced that a person can find the time to do the things they want to do, and you must want to contest.

“Come to the Affadaisies meeting at my house the first Tuesday of every month,” she wrote. “We trade entry blanks, “qualities,” and fish stories about the “won” that got away. You’ll love it, and besides, I’d love to meet you.”

Reprinted with the permission of Simon & Schuster from The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 words or Less by Terry Ryan. Copyright 2001 by Terry Ryan

There weren’t any clubs in Canada until I started the first one and encouraged others. I recommend everyone to find a local club, or join a virtual contest club meeting and enjoy the fellowship of their like-minded friends and share the fun!

Do you hangout with fellow sweepers?