Cecil, I must respectfully disagree with you on this one. You say that entries are treated equally whether or not they accompany subscriptions.

Many years ago, fed up with come-ons from Publisher’s Clearinghouse, I performed an experiment. I sent in an entry form all filled in properly, with no subscriptions selected. I got back a very excited reply telling me that I had progressed to the next stage, and was very close now to winning a huge pile of money. All I had to do was return the enclosed form. And while I was at it, would I like to subscribe to something?

I sent in that form, and the next, and the next, each time being told that I was now even closer to winning, until finally I received the last communication I ever got from PCH.

The letter said that since it was apparent that I was not going to subscribe, and that they would prefer that the prize be won by a subscriber, they were removing my name from their mailing list and from competition for the prize.

I thought that it was rude, and probably illegal, but they were telling the truth; I have not received spam from them since. So I feel that I have won a prize.

ETA: Link to column in question: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/305/whats-with-publishers-sweepstakesRico

Congradulations! You already won! We’re leaving your mailbox empty, now!

Are you sure you were dealing with Publisher’s Clearing House and not some two bit outfit imitating them?

I’ve known plenty of people who’ve entered the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes without subscribing, and never heard another word from them – until the next sweepstakes.

When I was a kid, you could win a million dollars, but they didn’t pay it out all at once. You got $20,000 per year until for 50 years or until you died. The prize is not transferable which means once you die, the money stops coming in.

Actually, to my surprise, it’s still around and on the Internet (www.pch.com). It’s now 10 million dollars and they pay $225,000 per year for 29 years and the rest on the 30th year. Prize is still not transferable, so if you die, you don’t get the rest. (See the rules)

Another tactic is that the prize is for a contest several years out. For example, the current prize won’t be awarded until 2/29/2012. If you have moved, phone number changed, or different email address, the prize could go unawarded. Interesting note is that the smaller $15,000 and $2,500 consolation prizes are awarded on 12/31/2010.

Interesting to note that the estimated chance of winning the prize is about 1.7 billion to one although the contest is only open to U.S. and Canadian residents. I know the U.S. has about 300 million people, so I guess Canada must have 1.45 billion people in it.