An ongoing contest carried out by the Clinton campaign appears intended to trick backers into making campaign donations in the false belief that it will increase their odds of winning tickets to the musical Hamilton.
The Clinton campaign is currently conducting a Hamilton fundraiser, selling tickets to the July 12 showing of the hit musical for amounts ranging from $2,700 to a whopping $100,000. But in addition to the expensive tickets available to wealthy donors, the campaign is also holding a contest to choose two random people who will win a trip to New York to see Hamilton.
Small print at the bottom of the contest sign-up page informs entrants that “No purchase, payment, contribution, or signing up to receive texts is necessary to win, and will not improve chances of winning.” This is an important component of most giveaway contests, because contests a person must pay to enter are technically lotteries, and most lotteries are illegal.But as soon as a person enters their email, they are taken to a new page in which they are told they actually can spend money in order to improve their chances of winning tickets to Hamilton. Ironically, the same promise that a contribution will not improve one’s chances is still at the bottom of the page. Even if one chooses not to make a donation, the Clinton campaign automatically sends a follow-up email with a reminder that every donation will provide an additional chance to win a Hamilton ticket. In fact, it is possible to enter the contest repeatedly without ever donating a dime to Clinton’s campaign. One can repeatedly enter one’s email address on the original sign-up page, and receive a new entry every time. So the fine print is actually accurate — no purchase is necessary or even helpful for winning.
The Clinton campaign, then, is being subtly deceptive, suggesting one can “increase [their] chances” of winning Hamilton tickets by donating money. In fact, this is not only unnecessary, but also counterproductive, since it’s much easier and faster to repeatedly make free entries than to spend time entering payment information for another entry.
Even some media outlets have fallen for the ruse. The Washington Times reported on the contest Sunday, saying people could enter once for free and then a second time if they donated to the campaign.
Using sleight of hand in such contests isn’t unprecedented. In McDonald’s famous Monopoly giveaway, most game pieces are obtained by buying specific food items, but a person can also receive game pieces for free by sending a handwritten note to McDonald’s corporate headquarters.
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