I Responded to a Lottery "Scratch-Off" Mailer from a Car Dealership

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If you’re like me, most of the mail you get anymore is junk mail. One common type of junk mail is “scratch-off promotions” from car dealerships. You know, those lottery-looking pieces that seem to award everyone the top prize?

Well, I responded to one.

The junk mailer. The junk mail I responded to.

How Do the Car Dealer Lottery Mailers Work?

So how do these car dealer lottery mailers work? How do they make it look as if everyone wins, but get away with no one winning?

Take a look at the prize list:

The Prize List

Now take a look at the “lottery” card:

The Lottery Card

You’ll see that all five numbers on top of the lotto card (the “winning numbers” 07, 12, 29, 30, 46) are somewhere in the block of numbers at the bottom (the “your numbers”).

Does that mean that this lottery card is a grand prize winner - worth $25,000 cash?


Take a look at the prize list again:

The Prize List

To the left determines what lottery cards are winners (except they’re all winners) and to the right simply lists what the prizes are. There is no relationship between the two.

Some cards only reveal this in the fine print. This one was a bit more explicit - below the prize list read this disclaimer:

Order of winning numbers does not match order of winning prizes. Confirmation code determines actual prize won.

The Fine Print and the Odds of Winning

Now, I didn’t think I won the top prize. At first, I didn’t think I won any prize.

But I read the fine print, and in the fine print it listed the probabilities for each prize:

  • Odds of winning $25,000 - 1:50,000
  • Odds of winning $5,000 - 1:50,000
  • Odds of winning $2,000 - 1:50,000
  • Odds of winning $1,000 - 1:50,000
  • Odds of winning wireless earbuds - 49,996:50,000

The fine print listing the odds of winning. The fine print listing the odds of winning.

Notice something about those odds? If you add them up, the odds of winning something is 50,000:50,000. In other words (or rather, in other numbers) the odds of winning is 100%.

So long as I show up, I’m walking out with at least a set of (cheap) wireless earbuds.

Showing Up

I’m an introvert, so showing up wasn’t exactly easy. I feared that whoever I ended up talking to would try to strong-arm me into buying or leasing a car.

We don’t need a new car - we bought a new-to-us van two years ago and a new-to-us car a year ago.

Thankfully, there was no sales pressure when I got there. I was quickly able to get in, talk briefly with who I assume was a sales associate, grab my wireless headphones, and head out.

The dealership that I had to go to is sprawled out across several blocks downtown. Actually, it’s several dealerships with a single name - over time, the dealership expanded to multiple makes.

The mailer stated that the offer was through the Chevrolet branch of the dealerships, so naturally, I went there first. Except I must have gone to the new - not used - part of the dealership.

I walked in and, as you’d expect at a dealership, a salesman asked me if he could help me.

“I’m trying to found out how to redeem this,” I told him referring to the mailer I was holding in my hand.

“All the action’s across the street,” he replied, “You can stay parked over here, though.”

I thanked him and walked across the street to another building with the same name as the place I had just left. At this building, I was greeted outside by a young gentleman in business casual, but no name tag or any indication he worked here.

Since he greeted me (and held the door open for me) I asked if he worked here. He replied that he did, and we walked to a long folding table with a couple of folding tables.

There were quite a few people in the building - probably many of whom had fallen for the “trick” thinking they had won $25,000 - and yes, they were all wearing facemasks. After all, prize or not, we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic.

The gentleman who I sat down with pulled out a form and asked me a few questions. I noticed that he didn’t ask me a question for every entry on the form, which was fortunate because I noticed there was a field on the form labeled “social security number.” I wasn’t about to hand out my social security number for a set of cheap earbuds.

What he did ask me was my name, phone number, and a couple of questions about my current vehicles (make, model, & milage). He also said something about a raffle.

With the form filled up, we stood up and turned around and faced a small poster - probably around two feet wide and three feet tall - which had a picture of each of the prizes with a number underneath each picture. Except the earbuds didn’t have a number, just the phrase all other confirmation codes.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t win any of the top prizes. No cash for me.

The gentleman went to a back room and came back with the set of wireless earbuds, brand new in the box, and handed them to me.

“By the way,” I asked, “what is that raffle you were talking about?”

“By law, we have to give away the top prizes,” he explained, “so if the winner doesn’t come in, we raffle it to someone who did come in.”

I’m not sure there is such a law, but I do think he honestly believed that. Maybe it’s just a trick to get people to hand over their information, I don’t know.

Oh, and at least according to my Google timeline, I only spent six minutes at the dealership. I spent more time driving there and back.

The Prize

The prize was a cheap set of wireless Bluetooth earbuds. The fine print said they were a $29.99 value.

The Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds The Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

I think I found the same pair of wireless earbuds on Amazon. At the time of this writing, the “list price” is $39.99 but the “current price” is $29.94. It might change by the time you’re reading this.

Who knows what the dealership paid for the earbuds - probably less than $29.99 each.

I have tried them out already - I used them to listen to some podcasts while I went on a run Wednesday morning.

I could only get one to work, but I don’t know if the other one really didn’t work, or if I simply didn’t know how to correctly pair it. I did find a Youtube video demonstrating how to properly pair both earphones:

I might try collecting the prizes from these “lotto” mailers in the future, so long as I actually want the prize, and continue having no hassle in getting the prize.

18 comments for I Responded to a Lottery "Scratch-Off" Mailer from a Car Dealership

  • Haha, always wondered what the deal was with the sleezy car dealership junk mail that I would get. Also, I had the same exact pair of headphones, they’re actually the super duper cheap kind that’s made in China. Pretty much dollar store headphones. I bought mine for 5 bucks on Wish. So I’m sure the schmuck heads at the dealership got a big box of those for 50 bucks bulk style.

    • They don’t last very long, either.

      When I first started using them, they lasted a little over an hour. Now they seem to be lasting about 45 minutes.

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  • Since I’ve been running for about an hour a day (during the week) and these free, cheap headphones only last 45 minutes, I went and bought a new pair.

    I didn’t get something expensive like Apple Airpods or Samsung Galaxy Buds (seriously, though, all the sites that are on the top of Google search for “best wireless earbuds” are showing $100+ earbuds). Instead, I bought a pair of AUKEY True Wireless Earbuds for about twenty bucks.

    They feel about the same as my old free ones, but still have plenty of charge even after my one-hour run. And they’re easier to use, too.

    Reply to This Thread

  • Thank you for your effort in trying the dealership lottery. I got one in the mail today for the umpteenth time, and was going to go for it. But I jumped online and saw your article. It’s so funny that in your pic, the dealership is in Dayton, and I live in Dayton, and know exactly the dealership you described- and the address in the pic! The winning mailer card I got was for a dealership on Shiloh Springs Road. All the fine print is exactly the same as yours. Thanks for saving my introverted self some time and energy! And what are the odds that the article I’d pick to read out of the thousands- lives in the same town as me! Hmm, maybe I should play. Lol!

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  • avatar for Kin Kin

    How is this not a bait and switch? Sure there is a lot of fine print, but the “winner” has no idea what they ideally won as the prize board doesn’t seem to be shown. You’re lead to believe you win $5000 but are given something else…That seems like classic bait and switch…

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  • avatar for Mark Mark

    He wasn’t lying about the law that says they have to give those prizes out. If that law didn’t exist places like this could have constant fake contests.

    • avatar for Jacqueline V Santos Jacqueline V Santos

      I have the winning number first prize of $25,000 should I go to the dealership and collect my winnings money of $25,000 or it’s just a scam

    • You don’t have the winning number first prize of $25,000. The ticket is meant to make it look like you’ve won when in reality you haven’t. It’s not a scam per se but it might as well be.

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    I just got a very similar offer from a different Dayton dealership that the game piece shows me winning 2nd prize. These shouldn’t be legal.

    • avatar for Sara Wilson Sara Wilson

      I’m so glad I’m reading these comments to these Lottery’s Car Dealerships ..I thought I Won a Prize A lot Of Cash but Ik now I didn’t I’m on a Fixed Income I only get paid once a month So Scams like these shouldn’t be allowed I don’t have the Gas to be Traveling 10 to 20 miles to get a cheap set of ear buds this should be against the Law..Thank you

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  • avatar for Daniel Daniel

    It’s mainly, so they get you into the dealership, so they can sell you a vehicle. 99% of people aren’t going to win. It’s for your information.

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  • avatar for Liz Hicks Liz Hicks

    I got a scratch off saying my amazon card could be worth $25.00-$10,000 an of course I had the big prize winner. I text it to Nissan dealership in Newnan Ga they responded with in 20 minutes to pick a day thats convenience for me to come in. I screenshot a lot of replies about these fake scratch offs and sent it to them. That was @6:12pm. I’ve heard no response but I thanked them and promised to post it for anyone who received this scratch off can see.

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    • avatar for Lynne Lynne

      I’m so happy to have found this article and your comment. I live in the Morristown TN area and we received one of these gimmicky games from Morristown Ford. My husband was about to fall for it especially after just returning from a cross country vacation and thinking the “$1000 winnings” would help us post-traveling. The cheap prize on this mailer is a Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker and it states, “$25 value; odds 1:1 should no other prize be won” I’m sure if he took the time to go out there with the pull tab that shows he won $1000, he’d walk out with only a very cheap speaker that’s more than likely Dollar Tree quality and was Made in China.

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  • avatar for Carlene Reposation Carlene Reposation

    I’ve worked at an a printing company for several years. We don’t print anything on cups, shirts, pens etc. We print on paper only. Business cards, magazines, mailers, flyers, etc. Every 3 months we had a car company (very well known car dealership) that would order of 100,000 of these exact flyers. Same purpose, same promise, and same cheesy flyers which read in huge letters… “YOU COULD BE THE NEXT LUCKY WINNER OF ONE OF THE FABULOUS PRIZES. A BRAND NEW $25,000 CAR, A $7,000 POLARIS SPORTSMAN 450, A $1000 GAS GIFT CARD, A 55” SOMY TV, A $500 PLAYSTATION 5, A $250 BLU-RAY PLAYER, OR A $29.99 PAIR OF WIRELESS AIR BUDS. DONT GIVE UP EVEN IF YOUR CODE DOESNT MATCH THE WINNING COMBINATION WE’RE DOING SOMETHING NEVER DONE BEFORE AND THAT MEANS WE’VE DECIDED TO STILL GIVE EVERYONE A CHANCE TO BRING THE KEY THAT CAME ATTACHED TO YOUR MAIL FLYER AND TRY YOUR CHANCE AT STARTING UP THAT BRAND NEW $25,000 CAR AND IF YOUR KEY STARTS UP THAT ENGINE THEN YOU GET TO DRIVE IT OFF THE LOT BECAUSE ITS YOURS! ITS THAT SIMPLE. LIMITED TIME ONLY SO GATHER THE FAMILY AND COME ON DOWN TO SEE IF IT’S YOUR LUCKY DAY!

    Finest print ever:odds of winning anything even the “$29.99 earbuds that cost $1.43 are 1 in 66trillion. basically you’re more likely to get eaten by a 26ft great white man eating shark on land than you at winning the China earbuds.you guys don’t even Wana know the odds of winning that $25,000 car do you? ok for fun only…there are no odds because of course no key would every start up anything except the key that fits whatever piece of sh*t you wasted gas and time to drive here but on your way out we do have a nice mardi gras type cup, a pen with our dealership info on it for our promotional purposes and a business card in case you decide to come back and purchase the damn car because tax season is coming up. Take care now

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  • avatar for JB JB

    Thanks for posting this. I got the Amazon gift card one, but it looks like I “won” the second prize of $2,500 cash. Except like in yours, there’s no relation between the winning number and the prize won, despite the intentional alignment.

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  • avatar for DB DB

    I was looking for this report when i got a car dealership junk mailer for Pryor, Oklahoma to Play The 25,000 Prize Is Right Game that you pull the tabs and everybody wins, Like I did thinking I won 5,000 but you have to take it to them to confirm the confirmation code to see if you really won anything! The fine print says if the tabs match for the 25,000 you are entered into a contest to win the 25,000, And what about some other fine print at the dealership that’s not on the flyer that says the prize money goes to a down payment of a car?

    • And what about some other fine print at the dealership that’s not on the flyer that says the prize money goes to a down payment of a car?

      Reminds me of the times the top “prize” is a car lease. Yay, I won going into debt!

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