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 How to run a sweepstake

How to run a sweepstake for the major sporting events

Looking to organize something for your friends and family with an element of sports-related excitement? Maybe your office needs something fun to bring your coworkers together? A sweepstake for one (or all) of the calendar's huge sporting events is always a great way to achieve this!

If you’re the person in charge of organizing this, we know there’s more to it than just keeping an eye on the result to see if you’re the lucky winner. There’s a lot of preparation involved to bring the sweepstake to life and in this blog we’ll provide a useful guide to make sure you’ve got everything covered in the easiest way possible.

Sweepstake Generator

So first things first - a sweepstake generator for you. Simply pop in the team names, then the names of the participants (it doesn't matter how many) and you're ready to go!

What is a sweepstake?

A sweepstake is a contest, usually based on major sporting events where entrants chip in an equal stake before being given a team/individual competitor at random. In most scenarios, the name of every team/individual involved is placed in a hat before being pulled out blindly to ensure a random selection. The ‘hat’ can be very literally a physical hat, but there are handy tools online for sweepstake generation that you can enter all the entrants into.

This creates a pool with the final amount up for grabs for the eventual winner. Take the Super Bowl for example, you can start pooling the money for this sweepstake at the start of the regular season. There are 32 teams in the NFL, so there’s the opportunity for 32 entry dues to be contributed to the pot. Don’t worry if you don’t have exactly 32 people to get involved though - you could offer everyone 2 picks for their due for example, or if you have more than 32 people, don’t be shy about running more than one sweepstake for the same event simultaneously.
Following the event, the entrant who has picked the winning team takes home the winnings (sometimes, the 2nd and 3rd place teams may also win a lesser amount of the total pot - depending on how generous you want to be!).

What are the best sporting events to run a sweepstake for?

We’re glad you asked. There are so many different sports, tournaments, events - you could run a sweepstake every single day if you desired! You might struggle to get the same commitment from everyone else though, so it’s important to focus on the right events that are going to have your peeps excited to be involved.

Here’re Collctiv’s top picks from the sporting calendar:

NFL Super Bowl

The National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl is one of the most-watched, highly anticipated events of the year (not just in the sporting world!). This game is the final playoff game to decide the season’s league champion and ‘Super Bowl Sundays’ have become much more than just the on-field spectacle.
People all over the United States (and further afield) throw parties, descend on the host city or just head to their local towns and cities to soak up the festival-like atmosphere. It’s a great excuse to bring all of your favorite people together and nothing quite adds to the excitement like a sweepstake being decided on the day.
The NFL regular season starts in September - why not set up a sweepstake for the 32 potential winners beforehand and experience the highs and lows of the seasons along with your chosen team, with everything coming to a finale on a thrilling Super Bowl Sunday!

The NFL symbol sprayed on grass
Photo by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

Masters Tournament

Going back to the first tournament in 1934, the Masters Tournament is one of the four major championships in professional golf, held at the Augusta course each April. The tournament plays host to around 100 of the world’s best players annually over the course of a full week.
The first three days of the week consist of practice rounds before the real fun starts with the remaining four days hosting the competitive rounds. Golf may not have the crashes, bangs and general intensity of the NFL, but this doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting.
With 100 entrants, this event is a perfect sweepstake opportunity for any larger groups, especially if you’re looking to set this up in a workplace. Throw the names of all the entrants into a hat and watch people become devout fans of golfers they never knew, all in the space of a weekend!

A golf green and flag in the mist
Photo by Michael Jasmund on Unsplash

Kentucky Derby

If the weekend of Masters Golf is still too long for you, we’ve got the perfect alternative. Nicknamed ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’ the Kentucky Derby is the annual horse race held in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May.

As well as being the oldest continuously held major sporting event in the US, dating back to 1875, it has even attracted royalty to the Churchill Downs race complex - Queen Elizabeth II joined racegoers in 2007 on a Stateside trip.

20 horses race a distance of 1.25 miles to declare the winner. If you’re looking for a last minute event to throw some fun into the mix, a sweepstake for the Kentucky Derby is the perfect addition.

 A horse in the gates before a race
Photo by Jamison Riley on Unsplash

NBA All Star Weekend

For those amongst us looking to put their organizational skills to the test and run a number of sweepstakes at the same time, the NBA All Star Weekend is the perfect opportunity to do so. Each February, the NBA season comes to a pause as the best basketball players in the National League descend on a host city for a number of skill based events, rounded off with an East vs West game.

If you’re a master at sweepstakes (or just organizing in general!), there’s lots of ways to get creative with a number of participants competing in a 3-point shootout challenge, a slam dunk contest and the hugely enjoyable skills challenge.

You could even go super simple on this and have some fun based on which of the chosen All-Stars will score the most points in the weekend's big East vs West finale. Throw the names in a hat and watch the finest basketball talents in the world put their best skills on show in this action-packed game!

A basketball court and stadium full of fans
Photo by Ryan on Unsplash

How do I collect the money for a sweepstake?

So you’ve got commitment from everyone, the teams/individuals are all ready to be selected from your physical/virtual hat, but before you go any further you need people to chip in their entry fee. None of this works without the prize money, right?
This is the part where you may be scratching your head or preparing yourself for the dread that comes with having to constantly remind someone to pay the entry fee you were promised days/weeks ago. It’s a surefire way to take the enjoyment out of something so fun.
No matter how many reminders you send by WhatsApp, Slack, Teams, carrier pigeon, people still aren’t paying up. Especially if their random selection is highly unlikely to win! Suddenly it becomes like getting blood out of a stone.
The next problem comes in the slightly unusual form of actually receiving the money (yes, receiving money can actually cause a problem), as you have requests from people to pay you by Zelle, Cash App, Venmo, PayPal or the dreaded check.
All of a sudden you’re losing track of who has and hasn’t paid, and the admin to keep up with this has become a full-time job. You may also have a hybrid way of working which means a number of people want to give you cash in the office instead.
Now you’ve got a mixture of random coins/notes in your hand that need to be cashed into your bank, payments in your Venmo account hidden amongst your personal transactions and the ongoing problem of some people who haven’t got around to paying you because they need to set up a Zelle account and actually paying you has become a job for later, and then for tomorrow, and then for the day after…… (you get the point).

The easy way to collect money from a group of people

We’ve made it easy for you as an organizer to collect money and we’ve also made it super simple for contributors to pay into your pot. Setting up a Collctiv pot can be done in less than a minute and sharing the payment link or QR code with your group is even easier, no matter the channel you use to communicate.
People use the link/QR code to access the payment screen and then tap to pay into your pot using their desired payment method, including Apple Pay and Google Pay. They don’t need to download an app, sign up to anything or do any banking. Within a couple of taps and 10 seconds later you’ve got your money. It really is that simple.
The money sits in the pot you’ve created for the specific event and can then be withdrawn to your bank account in a lump sum so it all remains ring-fenced until you have the final amount in advance. Say goodbye to the time and effort that comes with scrolling through pages of lunch meal deals and morning coffees to find out if Paul from IT has actually paid the money he owes. Instead, you can track the total amount you’ve received along with the names of the people who have paid you.
Take back control of your time. Take away the friction of payment. Take away the excuses. Get paid what you’re owed.

Download Collctiv today to get started.

Organizers bring people together

Since 2019 Collctiv has helped over 440,000 people from 88 countries come together by making it simple for Organizers to collect money from groups. Whether it's gifts for teachers, group holidays or grassroots sports teams - download our free app today and start bringing people together!

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