High Stakes Sweepers: "Pilot": the best things in life are free...

Quick Take: High Stakes Sweepers, “Pilot”
Average sweepers show others how to win big money and prizes for almost nothing.  



Review: High Stakes Sweepers, “Pilot”
(S0101) From TLC, the channel that brought us The Lottery Changed My Life and new hit Extreme Couponing, we now have High Stakes Sweepers, which is about obsessed sweepstakes-chasers and their winnings. I’ve watched all of these shows and in this current recession-plagued world, it’s very clear that there really isn’t a lot of patience or place for old-school wish-fulfillment shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous anymore. Watching other people live the lives we want is called reality for the majority of us nowadays, so it’s no wonder that reality shows that function as quasi “how-to” videos that provide skills on amped up couponing or sweepstaking are a lot more attractive to most of us today.  There’s an attainable quality to these shows because of the low financial investment which leaves you thinking, “Wait, I could totally have a tower of free pork and beans in my basement!”

With High Stakes Sweepers, you quickly come to understand that to participate there’s a lot less military-like planning (and math!), which is necessary in the extreme couponing game. All you need to sweep is a computer. In the hour, we meet six extreme sweepers that essentially make it their day job to enter massive amounts of primarily online-based contests and sweepstakes for impressive returns.

First off there’s Ron, who has a daughter getting married so he is targeting bridal contests with the goal of getting the wedding expenses and honeymoon covered with won prizes.

Then there's Barbara and Patricia, sister sweepers from Florida, who have been entering contests for 20 years and together have won over $2 million worth of cash and prizes. While Patricia goes after traditional instant win and sweepstakes contests, Barbara is obsessed with skill-based competitions like cooking contests.

Ret Fortuna is a sweeper that believes in research and has been at it for 50 years. She’s won a million in cash and prizes including three cars, a motorcycle and a trip to Australia. She also loves going to grocery stores with her sweeper club to scour for instant win prizes on products.

Carolyn, “The Contest Queen,” from Canada found herself unemployed ten years ago and turned to contests where she's since won $250K in cash, trips, and a plethora of prizes in between. She’s also written a book and maintains a website about how to sweep.

Lastly, Rob makes sweeping a family affair as he gets his kids and annoyed wife to help him enter traditional mail in sweeps which have more upfront investment but better pay off odds. He’s won many family trips, 3 plasma TVs and was trying for a bikini model vacation in Las Vegas. Classy, Rob.

All of the featured sweepers have made a lot of money on their hobby and overall it seems to feed their addiction to winning in a safer and less damaging way than traditional gambling. What they all seem to lose the most is time as their endeavors on average take about four to five hours a day to create the bulk of entries needed to tip the odds in their favor.

As for how entertaining High Stakes Sweepers is as a TV series, it certainly lacks the cash register pay off that Extreme Couponing achieves each week. The producers try to create a mailbox moment cliffhanger for each sweeper but often the result ends up being bad news and that means a boring pay off. Aside for some specific tips, the show felt repetitive after 30 minutes. However, here are some tasty tips we gleaned from episode one:

  • Weekend sweeps have better odds because internet traffic decreases by 50%.
  • Work together with buddies to better the chances of finding sweeps and entering them.
  • Make sure you can pay the taxes on your winnings!
  • If you like to recycle dive, check soda caps for promo codes that often get ignored by the drinker and could provide winnings.
  • Read the official rules for contests to make sure you enter according to the requirements so you don’t waste your time.
  • By Tara Bennett

    About the author

    is an author (The Lost Encyclopedia), a national entertainment journalist and a media studies adjunct professor at Rowan University. She's been a film, TV and pop culture junkie for as long as she can remember and she's got the old TV Guide's to prove it. Pray for her thighs as she spends far too much time at her desk writing or her couch watching what she loves.

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    On: Monday, August 15, 2011
    Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

    Tara, seriously, I thought this show was going to be about Mary Poppins-style sweepers and their doings. I don't know what that says about me or about the current state of reality televised examinations of increasingly odd and obscure professions and backgrounds (Extreme Pickling! has gotta be coming, right?). 

    But without having seen this pilot ep I find the concept somewhat disturbing -- everyone knows old people are often the victims of what end up being scams disguised as sweepstakes That Will Change Your Life. Nonetheless, yeah, I would totally watch this show :-) 

    On: Wednesday, August 17, 2011
    Ronald Sarson said:

    Ha! Ha! I won the bikini party in Vegas that Rob was trying to win. Better Luck next time.


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