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I always knew that Publishers Clearing House gave away money, but I never understood the Port Washington, NY based company’s business model.

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When I was a kid I used to think that my parents were crazy for not opening the envelopes that told them that they “might already be a winner.” How can you not love the idea of someone showing up to your front door with balloons and a giant check? For some reason young people and old people get most excited for sweepstakes. I always knew that Publishers Clearing House gave away money, but I never understood the Port Washington, NY based company’s business model. It’s actually pretty simple. They’re in the business of direct marketing with a focus on magazine subscriptions. They offer a sweepstakes where purchasing doesn’t help your odds of winning at all, and use it to get attention. Attention is the first step in selling, and it’s hard not to get some when you give away millions of dollars in such an extravagant fashion.

In the Clear

Simple logic tells you that in the aggregate people spend more money on buying stuff from Publishers Clearing House than they will ever win. I’d say it’s like the lottery, but buying a lottery ticket infinitely increases your chances of winning the lottery. Obviously Publisher Clearing House’s business is in flux. Magazines and mail are old hat. That’s why PCH has been pretty aggressive in making the move online. They’ve obviously taken sweepstakes to the web, but they’ve also gotten into casual gaming and mobile marketing. The 2000s were a little tough on PCH as they faced charges of misleading promotions and a slowly dying business model, but from the looks of their Jobs page they must be doing ok. Here’s what they’re looking for:

The odds of your getting a job at PCH are way better than the 1 in billion(s) of winning one of their sweepstakes, so go for the smaller payday that comes with going into their office every weekday.

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Have you ever won a sweepstakes?

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