You Can’t Win ’em All, But You Can Always Try

I love winning. Even more than that, I love winning free shit. But I also hate wasting time, and it’s for this reason that I never enter contests hosted by massive, multinational corporations like Coca Cola, who hold essay contests on dramatic, sweeping topics like, “What speaks for your generation?” (Wrong answers: Ke$ha, Rebecca Black, PepsiCo.)

I’ve learned the hard way that any and all time spent on such contests will result in an entry being lost to cyberspace. The six hours you spent drafting the perfect answer (Lady Gaga speaks for my generation, Coca Cola!) will be for naught, as you end up sending it to the wrong email address.

I have also learned that video contests are similarly discouraging. It doesn’t matter if you shoot your Internet Explorer promo video with a Canon 60D and a $3,000 lens kit — your submission will, invariably, be sucker-punched by another scary-cat-lady video.

So, if you’re really in the mood to win, enter small, local competitions. One of my greatest triumphs in life was winning a Facebook contest for one of the best, locally-based chocolate companies in the Bay Area: Recchiuiti Chocolates. The mere fact that they’re based in San Francisco’s Ferry Building is testament to their utter unaffordability. (That, and the $44 you pay for a box of 16 truffles. It’s that good.)

Once upon a boring summer at home, Recchiuti posted a Facebook game in which the first fan to answer a question about the company would win a prize. I was game. I was ready. I was in a manic, oddly focused state. I answered their question about the founder of the company in less than 15 seconds. It was apparently all so strange and hilarious that they felt the need to comment on my speed three times on their Facebook page and once in person.

But that doesn’t matter: I had won two tickets to their ice cream social — a $60 value! My mother, another huge fan, took the second ticket, and we spent the better part of the day gorging ourselves with salted caramel ice cream and freshly-made chocolate ice cream bon bons. All the other suckers there had spent upwards of $80 on their families, kids included (most of whom probably couldn’t even tell the difference between Dreyers and Haagen Dazs. I know I couldn’t when I was younger).

Moral of the story is: keep an eye out for the smaller, local competitions and you’ve got a decent shot. They’re usually advertised on the company’s Facebook fan page or Twitter, and can vary from just being the 20,000 fan to answering a couple of questions first.

The loot might seem sort of insignificant compared to that of those big competitions that you’ve shirked, but when you’re in it for the thrill of the win, the victory’s all the prize you need.

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