What To Do If You Win a Grand Prize

I received an inquiry from a reader who asked about what to do if he were to win a grand prize.

What To Do If You Win a Grand PrizeYou have won several large items so you know what to do. I was unable to find an article anywhere on your page that details what you are supposed to do if you win a big prize. Most of the sweeps I’ve seen say something about executing an “affadavit of eligibility, publicity/liability release and returning it to the prize administrator” within a short period of time or forfeit the prize. Where does one go to get and handle these forms? Does the sponsor help the potential winner with these forms? It’d be a shame to lose a nice prize because of not returning the right forms.


My response:

I haven’t written an article because the paperwork you receive will tell you what to do and each company does it slightly different. However, since you asked, here are some of my suggestions for handling a grand prize win.

Getting an affidavit notarizedThe standard thing that will happen when you are notified of a grand prize win is that you have to get an affidavit notarized. An affidavit is a set of official paperwork that basically says that you agree with the official rules, that you are eligible to win the prize, and that you followed the official rules to enter to win said prize. This is why it is so important to read the official rules and follow them. If you enter something you aren’t eligible for and actually win you could lose the prize so make sure to read the rules and don’t enter if you aren’t eligible. A notary will have you sign the paperwork and then they will sign it and use their seal to make it official. They may also document it in a ledger.

Remember, when you get something signed by a notary you are signing a binding set of paperwork that says you swear in front of a witness that what you are signing is the truth. Kind of like getting married but a lot more fun when it comes to sweepstakes win 🙂


Two notaries left comments (see below) saying that when you sign paperwork and have it notarized it is not to swear that what you are stating is the truth but to verify you are who you say you are.

On another note, there have been many times I got an affidavit signed that the notary asked me if what I am agreeing to is “true to the best of my knowledge” and when I sign and say yes, to me that means I am agreeing to what I just signed. Either way I would suggest that you follow the rules and only enter those sweepstakes you are eligible for. I appreciate the notary’s comments.

I suggest that you use your local bank to get the affidavit notarized because it is free.

You will also want to make copies of the affidavit if you have to send the original back. This will help you prove that you won the prize in case something happens or if the prize is delayed for some reason. You will also want to keep the cover letter or email that you receive because it will have the contact person’s information on it.

When you are sent the affidavit to fill out there is usually a letter attached with instructions about how to return it whether by fax, by mail or sometimes they include a return envelope for overnight delivery. It will also tell you what paperwork needs to be filled out, when it is due, and when to expect your prize. There should also be a contact person on the paperwork so you can call or email them if you have questions.

Disclosure: this sweepstakes listing may contain an affiliate or tracking link but we do not use referral links. Read about our policies for more details.

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  1. Anonymous says

    A bit of clarification is needed. Getting a notarization does NOT signify that you are signing a statement saying that the document is truthful.

    It only confirms that you are who you say you are. (I'm a California Notary Public and a member of the National Notary Association).

    Notarizations in all states work this way. Again, it does NOT indicate you are saying that the document you are signing is truthful.

  2. Thanks for clarifying that for us. I have had to fill out lots of these affidavit and many times they ask me if I swear that what I am signing is the truth so to me that would me that I am agreeing that that I agree to what is written in the documentation (affidavit) and that I agree, in this case, that I followed the rules.

    • Yes, ijust had to have an affadavit signed yesterday for the friskies bacon for a year sweeps and the notary has to see drivers license or ID, so they know it is you and they confirm it

  3. I just wanted to agree with what the anonymous person wrote. I've been a notary in three states (CA, TN, OR), and at least in those states, the notary is only verifying that the person is who he says he is when they sign the document. Perhaps each state is different though?

    I wish I had read this article a month ago. We neglected to make a copy of our affidavit (meant to but forgot). We are just waiting to hear when we will receive our prize, but it has taken three months just to get this far (it was the last Subway game), so I'm assuming it will be a while longer. The affidavit didn't say when we could expect the prize.

  4. Kim,

    I appreciate your feedback as well. I think I will update my post to reflect what you and the Anonymous notary (please use your name in the future) has noted.

  5. As a Texas paralegal and a notary, I wanted to add my two cents. Maybe it's just the way you originally phrased it in your article ("when you get something signed by a notary you are signing a binding set of paperwork"), but I found the responses misleading. A notary may simply "acknowledge" that you are who you say you are, but s/he can also swear you in, just as if you were testifying in a court of law. In Texas, for example, a person signing a will must swear to the truth of certain things in the presence of a notary. Now, whether those things are actually true…well, I don't know any omniscient notaries.

    When you sign an affidavit in the presence of a notary, you are swearing that the contents of the affidavit are true. That's what affidavits are for. The statement that the notarization "only confirms that you are who you say you are…it does NOT indicate you are saying that the document you are signing is truthful," won't wash in a court of law — not in Texas, anyway.

  6. I hope I didn't screw up a chance to receive our price. The instructions just said for me to fill out the affidavit and return to them; nothing about getting it notarized.

  7. The above notaries are sadly mistaken and I can't believe they have been notaries "so long" and have never heard of a "jurat"?! Of course notaries can administer oaths and when a document uses language containing the verbage "Sworn to and subscribed", this indicates that the notary must administer an oath.

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