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“YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY WON 10 MILLION DOLLARS!” We’ve all seen that one before. From the flyers in our mail to the ads on TV, that’s one of the classic contest lines. Many people fall for this one. Of course, if you pick it apart one by one, you’ll see how it deceives the eye. First of all, the word ‘you’ tricks you into thinking this is about you, when this is really about some big fancy pants corporation trying to get you to buy their product. The next word, ‘may,’ is the first big clue to you that the odds are against you. Whenever you hear the word may, it usually isn’t good. “We may have that movie. Let me check...oh, sorry. We don’t!” “Maybe I should go out on the blind date.” “May is when school ends.” All right, the last one was not so bad. But still, the word ‘may’ is usually a dream killer.

‘Have already’ is something that will throw your perception off a lot, also. It’s in the past tense, so it’s as if you did some winning previously. No? Well then, it doesn’t look like you’ll win anything now, either.

‘Won’ is a big eye attractor. Just say the word. Won. Of course, the sound ‘won’ is also bad. One is the loneliest number. OK, I’m just rambling on. But notice the word won is in the past tense, too. Did you already win anything? No.

‘10 Million dollars!’ That’s a nice way to end it. Money is always a nice way to end things. You end the week with your paycheck. But you also usually end the day by spending some money, and that’s what the contests are usually getting you to do, empty your pockets. One company did a neat little thing to entice you to buy. If you don’t order a magazine you have to send your entry in on a plain, white, boring,

unprotected postcard. Now, if you order a magazine, you get to have all the security of the big fancy envelopes with colors and the whole shabang. The big envelopes even went to a different address with a nicer name, so it would seem as if you’re giving your entry a royal treatment.

So yes, I am talking about contests in this article. Now let’s look at

some of the other quirks of the contest. First off, let’s look at the word contest itself. Is it just coincidence that the word ‘con’ is in the word contest? And why is the word ‘test’ in the word contest? Is it a test of your gullibility to order some stupid novelty Crossword Puzzle magazine? Or maybe it’s a test to see if you’ll sit beside a radio all day with your cellular phone in hand, ready to call the number as soon as the announcer says the phone lines are open? No matter what the test is, it’s a funny little word.

So what about contests in general? Why do companies have them? Wouldn’t the general population be happier if they cut the crap about letting one person out of 120 million customers win one million dollars? Or maybe if they must have contests to spark the winning fire in us all, how about having real prizes that we can actually win, huh? A certain fast food chain which name starts with an M and whose board game they used in a promotion also started with an M has latched onto a good idea. They give away tons of these free small fries, just to get the winning attitude going in their customers. This is a lot like Las Vegas. When you’re in the city of all things flashy, when you see the bright colored lights and banners overhead flashing that

Jim-Bob-Bimbo won 24 million dollars in Keno, you’re compelled to go in and try your luck at a machine, even if it has bad odds and a worse payoff. If you lose even $5 at that little nickel or quarter machine, chances are 100 people lost $5 at that same machine that day, and that’s $500 a day that the casino is raking in on one cheap little nickel slot machine! Hoo boy! Multiply this by 365 and you’ll have, for the people who like numbers, $182,500 a year! Then let’s say there’s 100 nickel machines on the

casino floor that are raking in that same amount of money. That’s $18,250,000

they’re taking in on their nickel slot machines alone! I don’t know about you, but to

me that’s good money.

But anyway, I gotta go and I think you do too because the DJ just said that caller number eleven could win a free CD, as long as he can answer a trivia question and his birthdate is the same as President Clinton’s.

ATTN: Frederic Smith

Getting Started column

Karl Becker (701) 222-3202

Page 1 of 3

ATTN: Frederic Smith

Getting Started column

Karl Becker (701) 222-3202

Page 2 of 3

ATTN: Frederic Smith

Getting Started column

Karl Becker (701) 222-3202

Page 3 of 3

Note for Frederic-If you’d like me to, I could do two columns a month. Now that school is over I would have enough time for that. You can get back to me on that if you like. Also, if you could print my article in the paper before Monday, May 19th it would be greatly appreciated. The reason is because my teacher’s like to read my articles-Karl Becker

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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