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Because most contests offer one very nice prize and multiple smaller consolation prizes, I’ve won hundreds of T-shirts, hats, key rings, product samples, and other branded tchotchkes for every large prize I’ve received. But one needs only so many T-shirts in a lifetime. So my alter ego, Weth, started the Win with Weth website (www.winwithweth.com) to give away such knickknacks to those unfortunate souls who don’t win as often as Weth does.

Sharing my personal information with so many companies has resulted in a lot of unwanted e-mail. So I’ve become choosier about the contests I enter. Most large companies have fairly well thought-out privacy policies and let contest enterers opt out of further communications. But some promotions, such as those tied to time-shares, are ploys that can lead to an avalanche of spam.

Marketers believe that contests can make their products or services seem more exciting and rewarding to consumers. In fact, many people consider such promotions to be fixed, or not worth their time–and their nonparticipation improves my odds.

After all, someone has to win. Might as well be Weth!

Thomas Wethern ‘90 is a loudspeaker design engineering consultant based in Allston, MA. His latest winnings include a treadmill and a video gaming system.

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Credit: Eric Levin

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