I'm one of those average kind of people who don't usually win prizes when I enter contests. I remember one time as a child, I won a cake walk at a carnival. I have won free fries at McDonald's during their Monopoly games. But other than these random times, I'm just not very prone to winning.
But recently, I was dumbfounded when I found winning a contest I didn't even know about in advance was so simple. It was so simple, in fact, that I didn't actually believe I won the contest until today when I was finally notified to come claim my prize.
Now, granted, we are not millionaires now and the prize isn't so shocking that my whole life will change from this day forward (much). But I feel like since I didn't really believe I'd won, I didn't really celebrate the win effectively. My response for weeks has been more like bewilderment and disbelief than excitement.
My brain just could not accept that I won.
There were 150 winners in this contest so the odds were not too bad, but what is even cooler about it is that I stumbled onto this contest while taking my sister, Jessica, to lunch on her visit to New Mexico in October. That was exciting enough! Having lunch with my sister, whom I hardly ever get to see.
We went to lunch. I saw a postcard sized announcement about the contest near the fountain drinks. I didn't think much of it till after lunch when I was refilling my beverage before I headed out the door.
It said, "Be among the first 50* to show us a picture of a hot air balloon during the Balloon Fiesta and you can win Schlotzsky's for a year."
I focused on the word, can, and thought, "I've got a photo of a balloon on my cell phone right now ... I'll enter and we'll see if I'm the one out of 50 who wins free lunch for a year. Ha. Unlikely."
I showed them my photo and apparently I was number 20 to enter the contest. Wow. I would have figured they'd already have their first 50. Okay, interesting.
As the employee got the manager who added my information to the list, he said, "Congratulations on winning!"
I chuckled and said, "Yeah, I guess being in the first 50 is pretty good."
He said, "So in a couple weeks, you'll get an email with the details of your prize."
I said, "You mean, if I win the prize."
He said, "No, you won already. All 50 people on this list win the prize of free Schlotzsky's for a year."
I stared dumbly at him. "Are you sure? It says I can win. Not that I will win."
He and the manager smiled and nodded like they knew a secret they weren't going to let me in on.
I went back to the van where my sister and the kids were all waiting for me (and thinking this was the slowest drink fountain in the world) and as I got into the driver's seat, I said, "So, I think I just won Schlotzsky's for a year."
My sister was equally confused and/or amazed.
I told a couple people, but not too many because I was sure I was incorrect in my assumption that the store employees knew what they were talking about. I was sure there was some loophole.
Almost a month later, I got the email with information that my prize would be ready soon. I replied to the email to verify that I was in fact a winner. I never received a reply.
Today, I got the email that said my prize was ready and to come to Schlotzsky's to pick it up.
All day, I was still questioning whether or not this was some kind of hoax. But finally, I sucked up my logic and headed down there. They checked my ID, they compared it with their list, they handed me a big stack of coupons.
Fifty-two coupons to be exact. I can only use one per visit, but I do not have to use only one per week.
Unbelievable. I won something for real. What's going on here?! One of the weirdest moments in my life so far.
P.S. As a side note, I have had nothing but water to drink for 8 days straight now (as suggested by my chiropractor). No more soda (diet or otherwise) ... so it's weird thinking that if this contest was going on now, I probably wouldn't have seen the little announcement about it.
*Three local Schlotzsky locations ran this contest with 50 winners each, equaling 150 total.