Confusing Publishers Clearing House (PCH) contest angers entrants

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 06:07:56-04

Imagine scratching off a sweepstakes ticket and discovering you just won $1 million.

That's what happened to a Northern Kentucky man, until he realized that matching all the numbers doesn't necessarily mean you are a winner, unlike a state lotto scratch-off.

One Million Dollars!

We've all dreamed of having the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol show up at our door, bearing unexpected riches.

Steve Gibson thought he had hit the jackpot, too. Gibson says he recently received a PCH scratch-off ticket in the mail.
But he couldn't believe it: When he scratched, three $1 million amounts showed up on the ticket.

"The three that matched weren't like 10,000 or even 100,000.  It said 1 million, 1 million, 1 million," he said.  He thought he won the big jackpot, and took pictures of everything with his smartphone.

Gibson says he felt so confident it was a winner, he made a special trip to the post office just to have his entry examined and hand stamped, to make sure it got to Publishers Clearing house.

"I said I think I have a winner here, and she she said 'good luck!' And she put it in the basket right there."

But weeks later he says, he received no confirmation, just another chance to enter.

What Happened?

We found several similar complaints online, from people who say they matched three numbers, only to learn that they won nothing.

So we contacted PCH, which said, "The prizes listed on that scratch card are the prize you would win should your entry be chosen as the winner. Matching three symbols for a prize amount does not guarantee your winning."

(See full PCH statement below)

Bottom line: Gibson won a chance to win a million dollars. His card will now be placed in contest with most likely hundreds of thousands of other entrants.
It is stated in the fine print, but that is something Gibson says was not clear to him. "I would say something fishy is going on," the frustrated man said.

Legally, Publishers Clearing House has done nothing wrong. But you have to wonder how many people look at these cards the same as scratch off lotto tickets, where three matching numbers means you're a winner.

As always, don't waste your money.


Full PCH Statement:

The promotional component that your viewer contacted you about offered consumers the ability to scratch to find out the amount that they could enter for a chance to win.  As indicated on the front of the "Black Gold" component,  consumers were encouraged to scratch off the gold circles on the card to learn "how to enter to win"  for the Giveaways promoted. The front of the card directed all consumers to the back of the card for further details  where additional information was found that stated in part:

Entry instructions:

  1. Scratch off all gold circles in each card.
  2. Look for three matching prize amounts.
  3. Follow instructions on back of each card for your opportunity to win.

The component was part of a larger PCH mailing that contained full Official Rules for the Giveaways and our stand-alone Sweepstakes Fact insert that states, in-part:

You Have Not Yet Won. All Entries Have The Same Chance Of Winning.  The winner has not been identified. We don't know who the winner is. If you enter our Sweepstakes, your entry will have the same chance to win as every other entry.

Publishers Clearing House does not notify consumers who win our major prizes by mail. Our million dollar winners are notified, unannounced, in person by our famous Prize Patrol with the balloons, champagne, flowers and big check that are all featured in our television commercials as it happens. To date we have awarded over $290 million in major prizes.


“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).

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