Jackpot Rewards Drops Guaranteed $1 Million Weekly Sweeps Winner

April 7, 2008 · 0 comments

Oh, really? Did I not call this?
Okay, the facts as I can discern them: Last week (again, while I was on vacation), Jackpot Rewards sent out an email to its members saying that they had decided to eliminate their weekly “guaranteed $1 million winner” sweepstakes drawing, one of the biggest appeals of the program (the ONLY thing they have going for them, as I said here). As reported in Xconomy.com today, the email promised that the Sunday $1 million drawings would continue, though without any guarantee of a $1 million winner. If no one wins the $1 million jackpot, the company will choose one random entrant to win $1,000.
The email to members said this change would somehow “create more winners.” (How, exactly, isn’t clear to me or to Xconomy reporter Wade Roush… it seems to me like this would create the same number of winners, only instead of a guaranteed $1 million winner, there’s a guaranteed $1 thousand winner.)
Jackpot’s CEO Jim Miller told Investors Business Daily on March 5th, “Even if we grow at a snail’s pace, 10,000 to 15,000 subscribers a month, we can still afford to do this for as far as the eye can see.”
He went on to say that, “If you refer one person, you double your chances of winning a million bucks…Refer two and you have tripled your chances. It’s a strong incentive to send an e-mail to your entire contact list.” He told IBD Jackpot also intended to do some online and radio ads. I’ve seen banner ads for Jackpot all over the internet, and I understand that Jackpot was offering webmasters a bounty of $16-19.50 (depending on the affiliate network) for each new paying Jackpot member they brought in.
What’s slower than a snail’s pace? A dead snail’s pace?
On February 27th, in a comment to my original Jackpot Rewards review here, I warned that the “charge a membership fee but give all shopping commissions back” setup was a “model [that] just doesn’t work here in the U.S.”
In the 3/5 IBD article, Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence said that, “This model is dead on arrival…It’s too tortured and too complicated and the $3 a week is really a big red flag. In the beginning, people will participate. But over time they won’t, unless they do constant advertising to get people to go there.”
Jackpot’s CEO Miller has said on more than one occasion that he wants the jackpot wins to change people’s lives. From the Metrowest Daily News, 3/16: “We got together looking for new and innovative ways to raise money to educate poor and at-risk kids…There were two types of people at that meeting. Those whose lives were transformed with one big moment like the college scholarship or the job break that changed their lives. But the majority of people in the room, their lives changed more gradually, incrementally…Coming out of that meeting, I liked the idea of that transformational message – building a company that enabled its customers to change their lives all at once or gradually but everybody getting ahead…The jackpots are transformational. In that instant, it changes your life forever…”
So, how’s that been working out?
Five weeks, five jackpot winners. Karen Fink of Otis, MA was working three jobs and needed a new roof. Winning a million bucks will definitely change her life. So score one for Jackpot.
Deborah White of Wilmington, MA, was another million dollar winner. She had been with her current employer, a bank, for less than a year. She planned to use the money to pay off her car note and to fund her retirement. Hmm…maybe not life-transforming, but like most of us, she could use the money. I might chalk this down to another score for Jackpot.
Now the other three Jackpot winners’ lives, would they be “transformed,” meeting Jackpot’s goals?
Frank Santo, from Wellesley, MA, has owned a restaurant for many years and was all set to move into a house BEFORE the win. Transformational? I doubt it. He did say he planned to donate some of his winnings to charity, though, which was nice.
Bill Tomicki was another $1 million winner. He either publishes or edits two travel magazines and was traveling in India when he was notified of his win. He was once VP of Tiffany’s and Sotheby’s, has traveled to over 100 countries, and was knighted twice. Will this transform his life? Somehow I doubt it. But again, he does promise to donate some to charity.
The last $1 million winner was Jeremy Fiske of Charlton, MA. Jackpot is quick to point out that he’s a recent college grad, but they go on to say that he’s making a movie with Martin Scorcese right now (Ashecliffe) and that he’ll use some of his winnings to finance a NEW movie he’s starting work on in October. How much is this going to really transform his life, I wonder? The guy’s chillin’ with Scorcese! I doubt he’s living on mac ‘n’ cheese and wondering how to pay his baby’s doctors’ bills.
Here’s a thought: perhaps the kind of people whose lives would be most transformed by winning a million dollars are those who can’t afford to pay $156 a year to play. If these investors really want to change the world, to “educate poor and at-risk kids,” maybe they should be creating scholarships or funding internships. Maybe they could build some inner-city schools, do a “cash for A’s” rewards program, or set up free babysitting services for teenage moms so they can finish their high school education. Maybe they could offer incentives for all their employees to donate time tutoring at-risk kids or becoming Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Maybe it’s my brain that operates at a “snail’s pace,” but I’m not 5 million dollars poorer today and no closer to meeting my goals.

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