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Want to be $50,000 richer? These 9 fun contests pay winners thousands (or millions) of dollars

You might not realize how valuable just a pinch of creativity can be. For example, if you sometimes play with your food, you must be the perfect contestant for a Cheetos sculpture contest — that pays $50,000. Or maybe you could snag that much just by baking your famous apple pie? Hundreds of contests with winnings of up to $2 million are ripe for the picking right now — and all you have to do is use your genius to win big.

While some contests promote a particular brand or product, others are used to find smart solutions to different problems or challenges. Some of the world’s coolest inventions in history were motivated by payouts like the $100,000 Fredkin Prize, which inventors of IBM’s Deep Blue won in 1997 after their computer beat world champion Garry Kasparov in a chess match.

Of course, other contests — like eating competitions and extreme ironing — are just downright fun. Want more chances at piles of cash? Here are nine contests you can enter today, ranked by how much money you can win.

9. Conjure a scare with dry ice

Prize: $1,500

How to enter: If you have the creepiest Halloween tableau in town — and it involves a lot of dry ice — snap a photo, upload it and enter to win cash.

Entry deadline: Nov. 7

If you go all out for Halloween and include some spooky dry ice swirling across your lawn — or around the decorations at your party — you could win for your misty design. Snap an image or video of your dry ice scene and share on social media using the hashtags #FrightfullyCool and #PenguinDryIce. Then upload the image or video to Frightfully Cool to officially enter to win. In addition to the $1,500 grand prize, one runner-up gets a $250 gift card, and each of three honorable mentions get $100 gift cards. Here’s last year’s winner:

8. Find your long-lost buddy in Chi-Town

Prize: Trip to Chicago for a reunion (worth approximately $4,450)

How to enter: Recall the time you met a special person in your life and share a memory online to enter the Folgers Share a Coffee Contest.

Entry deadline: Dec. 4

Remember your sandbox buddy from grade school? Now Folgers is providing you with a chance to visit a friend in Chicago, with some spending money to boot. To enter, share a story about your long-lost loved one — two lucky winners will be selected to reunite in Chicago; 40 other winners will get mugs and free coffee.

7. Win cash for writing science fiction

Prize: Up to $5,000

How to enter: Submit a science-fiction story of 17,000 words or less.

Entry deadline: Ongoing

If you’ve dreamed of being paid to write, but were too nervous to submit your work to a publisher, the L. Ron Hubbard (yes, that L. Ron Hubbard) Writers of the Future Contest is a great place to start. If your work is chosen, you could receive cash prizes ranging from $500 to $5,000.

6. Share what makes you smile

Prize: $10,000 grand prize

How to enter: Post a photo of “something you’ve saved” to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and say why it’s special. (Don’t forget to tag your photo with #ShareMySave and #Contest.) You can also enter via the Capital One Share My Save contest page.

Entry deadline: Nov. 12

The image you share can be a moment or something you find beautiful. In addition to the grand prize, 10 weekly winners are selected to win $500. Here are some examples of the competition you’ll face.

5. Change the world with words

Prize: $12,000

How to enter: Submit a short story describing what the future would resemble where everyone enjoys economic security.

Entry deadline: Nov. 1

Backed by the Economic Security Project, writers can submit a maximum 5,000-word essay about a re-imagined world of economic change and growth for all people, regardless of economic background. The essay should address the potential impact basic income — a concept where all citizens receive a certain amount of money for living expenses — could have on society.

4. Show love for your favorite football team

Prize: A one-night VIP stay at a customized suite within the U.S. Bank Stadium, two tickets to the Super Bowl and round-trip airfare (worth approximately $23,300)

How to enter: Post the “most passionate NFL fan photo” you can with the hashtag #CourtyardSuperBowlContest on Instagram or Twitter. (You can also enter by posting your submission as a comment on a Super Bowl Sleepover brand post on Courtyard’s Facebook wall.)

Entry deadline: Nov. 3

You can get the chance for a free trip to the 2018 Super Bowl and stay in a customized suite, designed by Marriott, right inside the stadium. Just share a photo on social media that shows what makes you a super fan. Semifinalists get gift cards worth $200 each.

3. Create a monster for the Cheetos Museum

Prize: $50,000 grand prize

How to enter: Create a Cheetos monster from your choice of various Cheetos-brand products and submit your design after registering with the Cheetos Museum.

Entry deadline: Oct. 31

Cheetos will reward one creative sculptor $50,000 for a winning entry into the Cheetos Museum. Sculptors should create their monster design using any Cheetos-brand products; you can look for inspiration here. Although there’s $50,000 on the line, you can also win one of eight weekly $1,000 prizes.

2. Win big with your favorite recipe

Prize: $50,000 (plus prizes)

How to enter: Submit your favorite recipe using no more than eight ingredients — including one Pillsbury product, like their cookie dough, sweet rolls, biscuits or crescent rolls.

Entry deadline: Nov. 10

Calling all bakers and chefs! In the 48th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off challenge, you enter your best recipe for a favorite breakfast, appetizer, dinner or no-fuss dessert. The grand prize includes $50,000, a kitchen makeover, a trip to New York, a visit from the Food Network Crew and a feature in the Food Network Magazine. Three runners-up will each receive $5,000 and other prizes, for a combined value of $20,000 apiece.

1. Design a flying machine

Prize: Four phases of prizes totaling $2 million

How to enter: Create a personal flying device capable of flying 20 miles while carrying one person. The machine needs to be near-VTOL, which means near-vertical takeoff and landing.

Entry deadline: April 4, 2018 (Phase I registration deadline)

If you’re an aerospace engineering junkie and the dream of flight makes you giddy, you could win big money with the GoFly contest. Sponsored by Boeing, GoFlying is looking for flight devices that are functional, quiet and safe. Prizes are awarded in four phases based on the progression of the device, and the contest is open to inventors of all ages.

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You might not realize how valuable just a pinch of creativity can be. For example, if you sometimes play with your food, you must be the perfect contestant for a Cheetos sculpture contest — that pays $50,000. Or maybe you could snag that much just…

How to claim

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have seen a significant increase in postal claims which are taking us a little longer to process than usual. Please bear with us during this difficult time. Should you wish to check your Draw-Based tickets please refer to the ‘Help with checking results’ section on the Help & Contact us page. Take me to results.

Won a prize? Congratulations! Here’s how to claim it; whether you’ve played online or in-store.

Please remember that:

  • all draw game prizes must be claimed within 180 days after the day of the draw (unless you follow the procedure which allows you to claim within 7 days after the end of the claim period – see the relevant Rules for more information);
  • Instant Win Game prizes must be claimed within 180 days after the day you bought the Instant Win Game;
  • Scratchcard prizes must be claimed within 180 days after the game closes.

More information about claim periods is set out in the relevant Rules linked to in the ‘Further information’ section below.

Any prizes not claimed within the relevant claim period will be forfeited.

Online prizes (except Direct Debit and Pingit prizes)

Prizes up to and including £500 – These will be paid directly to your National Lottery account.

Prizes over £500 up to and including £30,000 – To claim your prize, you’ll need to confirm that the prize should be paid to the debit card registered to your National Lottery account before 11.00pm on the last day of the claim period. You can do this via the message we send to your account for draw games, or via the prize notification when you finish a game for Instant Win Games.

Prizes over £30,000 up to and including £50,000 – If you’ve been really lucky and won over £30,000 and up to and including £50,000, please call us on 0333 234 44 33 ∞ during our normal opening hours during the claim period to claim your prize. Prizes will be paid by cheque.

Prizes over £50,000 must be claimed in person during the claim period. Call us on 0333 234 44 33 ∞ during our normal opening hours during the claim period to validate your claim and we will arrange to process your claim in person.

Free Lotto Lucky Dip – If you match 2 main numbers on Lotto, you’ll win a free Lotto Lucky Dip, which will be entered into the next Lotto draw. We’ll let you know that you’ve won and you can choose which Lotto draw you’d like to be entered into for future free Lotto Lucky Dips that you win.

If you win a non-cash prize, instalment or annuity prize you can find out how to claim in the Game Procedures and/or Game Specific Rules for the relevant game.

Online Direct Debit prizes

Direct Debit winnings can take three to five working days to be paid in to your bank account

Prizes up to and including £50,000 – These will be paid directly to the bank or building society account your Direct Debit is taken from.

Prizes over £50,000 – If you’ve been really lucky and won over £50,000, please call us on 0333 234 44 33 ∞ to validate your claim and we can arrange to process your claim in person.

Free Lotto Lucky Dip – If you match 2 main numbers on Lotto, you’ll win a free Lotto Lucky Dip, which will be entered into the next Lotto draw. We’ll let you know that you’ve won and you can choose which Lotto draw you’d like to be entered into for future free Lotto Lucky Dips that you win.

If you win a non-cash prize, instalment or annuity prize you can find out how to claim in the Game Procedures and/or Game Specific Rules for the relevant game.

Pingit prizes

Prizes up to and including £50,000 – These will be paid directly to the Pingit account you bought the entry with.

Prizes over £50,000 – If you’ve been really lucky and won over £50,000, please call us on 0333 234 44 33 ∞ to validate your claim and we can arrange to process your claim in person.

Free Lotto Lucky Dip – If you match 2 main numbers on Lotto, you’ll win a free Lotto Lucky Dip, which will be entered into the next Lotto draw. We’ll let you know that you’ve won and you can choose which Lotto draw you’d like to be entered into for future free Lotto Lucky Dips that you win.

If you win a non-cash prize, instalment or annuity prize you can find out how to claim in the Game Procedures and/or Game Specific Rules for the relevant game.

In-store prizes

Prizes up to and including £100 – You can claim prizes up to £100 from National Lottery retailers. All National Lottery retailers are required to pay prizes of up to £100, apart from those with till-point terminals, who are required to pay prizes up to £50. Some may pay prizes onto debit cards.

Prizes up to and including £500 – You can claim prizes up to £500 from some National Lottery retailers. Retailers are allowed, but not required, to make payments (in cash or to debit card) for prizes of over £100 up to and including £500.

Additionally, all prizes up to and including £500 can also be claimed at designated post offices with a National Lottery terminal.

If you can’t claim at a National Lottery retailer or Post Office, you can claim by post.

For more information about claiming at a Post Office or by post, see below.

Prizes over £500 up to and including £50,000 – You can claim prizes over £500 up to and including £50,000 at designated post offices with a National Lottery terminal or at some National Lottery retailers on the Isle of Man.

If you can’t claim in any of these ways, you can claim by post.

You will be required to provide proof of your identity and age (and any other relevant information) when claiming a prize. Post Offices will also require proof of address. You will also need to complete a Prize Claim Form if claiming at a retailer on the Isle of Man, or if claiming more than £5,000 by post.

For more information about claiming at a Post Office or by post, and for more information about acceptable ID, see below.

Prizes over £50,000 – If you’ve been really lucky and won over £50,000, you must claim your prize in person.

Please call us on 0333 234 50 50 ∞ . You will need to complete a Prize Claim Form and provide proof of identity and age (and any other relevant information).

Free Lotto Lucky Dip – If you match 2 main numbers on Lotto, you’ll win a free Lotto Lucky Dip. To claim your free Lotto Lucky Dip, take your winning ticket to a retailer who will give you the option of receiving a Lotto Lucky Dip Ticket for the next Wednesday or Saturday Lotto Draw.

Non-cash prize, instalment or annuity prize – If you win a non-cash prize, instalment or annuity prize you can find out how to claim in the Game Procedures and/or Game Specific Rules for the relevant game.

Important – claiming your prize at a Post Office

You can claim prizes over £500 up to and including £50,000 only at designated Post Offices with a National Lottery terminal. Please search online first for a designated Post Office in your area and be sure to take valid ID.

To search online for a Post Office that can pay lottery prizes, use the Post Office Branch Finder.

Searching on the Post Office website

  1. Click on ‘Branch Finder’.
  2. Enter your location in the ‘Where’ field then select ‘Choose a service’.
  3. Scroll down to ‘National Lottery’ and tick the ‘Lotto prize payments’ box.
  4. Select ‘Search’.
  5. You will then see a filtered selection of designated Post Offices in your area.

Providing valid ID at a Post Office

As proof of identity, you will need one item of identification from the Proof of ID list, and also one item from the Proof of Address list.

Important: Be sure to have your ID documents with you. If the Post Office scans your winning ticket and you don’t have the correct ID, you will need to complete your claim by post.

Acceptable Forms of ID and Address

Proof of ID and address
Proof of ID Proof of address
Passport (any nationality) Bank or building society statement (Debit or Credit Card) issued to your current address, dated within the last three months
Photo Driving Licence (UK and EU) Household bill (gas, electric, telephone, water, satellite, cable) dated and issued to your current address, dated within the last three months
UK original birth certificate issued within 12 months of birth Council Tax statement dated and issued in the last 12 months
UK biometric residence permit Mortgage statement dated and issued in the last 12 months
PASS Card (Proof of Age Standards Scheme) Letter from H.M. Revenue & Customs, Department of Work and Pensions, employment service, or local authority dated and issued within the last three months
HM Forces/Police Photo ID Card Pension, endowment or ISA statement issued in last 12 months
UK adoption certificate Child benefit book dated and issued in the last 12 months
Valid EU photo ID card Current Television Licence
Valid UK firearms licence with photo
Signed valid UK paper driving licence
Marriage certificate or Civil Partnership certificate, with translation if not in English
UK birth certificate issued more than 12 months after date of birth, but not a photocopy
Non-UK birth certificate, with translation if not in English issued within 12 months of birth
P45 statement of income for tax purposes on leaving a job dated and issued in the last 12 months
P60 annual statement of income for tax purposes dated and issued in the last 12 months
Electoral ID Card (NI Card)
EU Medical Card
Blue disabled driver pass

Claiming your prize by post

To claim your prize by post, send your winning ticket to:

The National Lottery
PO Box 287
Watford
WD18 9TT

If your prize is over £5,000, you will need to send a completed Prize Claim Form with your ticket.

Prizes claimed by post are claimed entirely at your risk. We accept no responsibility for tickets, Prize Claim Forms or any other accompanying documentation lost in the post. Camelot must receive postal claims within the claim period.

In-store prizes – important information

When you give your National Lottery ticket or scratchcard to the retailer, you will notice some additional measures to ensure that you know you are a winner and how much you have won.

A ‘win sound’

The National Lottery terminal will make a distinctive sound when a winning ticket or scratchcard is scanned¹.

Listen to the ‘win sound’:

¹Except till-point terminals.

A ‘win receipt’

This is a receipt that a National Lottery retailer must give to a player every time a winning Lottery Draw-Based Game ticket (for example, Lotto or EuroMillions) is scanned and validated. For prizes that can be paid out in-store, the ‘win receipt’ will inform you how much you have won. For higher-value prizes that need to be paid out at a Post Office or by Camelot, the ‘win receipt’ will provide guidance on how you can claim your prize.

Example ‘win receipt’

Please note that you will not be given a ‘win receipt’ for a winning scratchcard. This is because scratchcards already contain all of the information necessary for you to know whether or not you have won a prize.

When you receive your prize, the retailer will keep your ticket. If, however, the retailer cannot pay you your prize, they will return the ticket to you, along with your ‘win receipt’.

Please remember that, if your National Lottery ticket or scratchcard is not a winning one, the retailer must give it back to you.

Queries or doubts: If you feel that the retailer has made a mistake, please query the matter with them immediately. Using the Lottery terminal, they can check to see whether they gave you your ‘win receipt’ (if you have presented a Lottery Draw Game ticket) and can also find your transaction on the terminal.

If the retailer cannot resolve your prize payment query to your satisfaction or you have any further concerns, please contact Camelot to report the matter. You can either:

  • email[email protected]
  • phone 0333 234 50 50 ∞
  • write to: The National Lottery, Player Services, PO Box 287, Watford, WD18 9TT.

All prize payment queries and complaints are investigated by our Security Operations Team – please provide a daytime phone number for them to contact you.

Learn about how to claim your prizes ]]>