75K People Must Buy Raffle Tickets If Anyone’s Gonna Win This Dream House

Before you go setting your heart on a raffle prize, you should always read the fine print. Otherwise all your hopes might be in vain — and so will everyone else’s. To wit: In an exciting raffle benefiting Special Olympics athletes in Washington — very worthy cause, to be sure — the top prize is a gorgeous, $5 million lakeside house. But the only way anyone will win it? If the raffle sells at least 75,000 tickets.

The Seattle Times takes a look at the high-profile $150-a-ticket raffle, which also showcases 1,700 other tantalizing prizes like cars, cruises and a golf outing to Scotland.

As for that house, however, there’s a bit of fine print buried in the rules that doesn’t appear in the raffle brochure, notes the Times: That in order for the top prize to be handed over of either the house or a $4 million annuity, ticket sales must first reach 75,000.

Something similar happened in St. Louis in a raffle that brought about a warning from that area’s Better Business Bureau.

“Our feeling was if they are calling it a house raffle and saying someone could win a house, then someone should win this house,” said Bill Smith, a BBB investigator.

It’s much the same story at the BBB’s Seattle office.

“This is not to say this a bad charity, but I’m concerned that they’re not being transparent here,” spokesman David Quinlan says. “It’s imperative for anybody buying tickets to read all the contest rules.”

The consultant running the raffle for Special Olympics says that not including that 75,000 person requirement in the brochure wasn’t an intentional thing, and not meant to be a bait-and-switch.

“The marketing material is only so big. … We’re trying to motivate people to buy,” he said, adding that all of the information about the raffle is spelled out on its website. All of the other prizes will be rewarded no matter what, and he said ticket sales are doing well so far.

The Special Olympics Washington CEO said she got the idea for a house raffle from a Special Olympics organization in Los Angeles that has run four raffles before, as a way to help boost funds for the charity after the recession. Again, a good thing for a good cause — those four raffles have pulled in more than $4.5 million.

It’s worth noting that none of those sold enough tickets for a house to be awarded, but Bill Shumard, CEO of Special Olympics Southern California says he hopes that will change.

“We’d love to see someone win the house,” he said. “We keep trending upward … in a couple more years, the house may just come into play.”

The raffle runs until mid-May, so if you or anyone else wants to win that house, you better start buying.

Win dream house? Fine print in Special Olympics raffle suggests prize uncertain [The Seattle Times]

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