San Luis Obispo native Vicki Tucker has all the luck.
After years of entering sweepstakes, shes won her biggest prize yet: an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, worth nearly $19,000.
The mailman is my best friend right now, Tucker said with a chuckle.
The retired manicurist has been entering online sweepstakes contests for seven or eight years, earning everything from fast-food coupons to T-shirts to Los Angeles Dodgers tickets.
After you win a few things, you get hooked, she acknowledged. You just want to enter more contests.
Tuckers hobby occupies much of her free time.
Every morning, she sits down at her computer and scrolls through a list of enticing sweepstakes, deciding what she wants to enter. She checks websites such as OnlineSweepstakes.com, SweepstakesToday.com and LuckyContests.com daily for deals.
The more you enter, the more likely you are to win, she explained.
Although the chances of winning are pretty slim, Tucker said, the payoffs can be huge.
Thanks to her sweepstakes success, she and her husband, Tom Luginbill, have seen the Academy Awards red carpet ceremony and attended a NASCAR race in Atlanta. The couple even won a trip to the opening of the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, where they renewed their wedding vows with six other couples in a ceremony officiated by former Mayor Oscar Goodman.
These are things that we havent experienced and probably never would have if we hadnt won these trips, Tucker said.
Tucker and her husband are looking forward to their five-day trip to London in August, their first visit to the United Kingdom capital city.
They will stay at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel, hang out at CoSports hospitality center and attend Olympic sporting events including basketball, beach volleyball and diving. The trip, valued at $18,860, is being sponsored by Coca-Cola and Macerich, which owns and operates a network of shopping malls in the western United States.
Tucker said her next goal is to win a new car.
All my friends say, I want to do that, I want to do that, but after a while, they lose interest, Tucker explained, adding that some people would probably find the activity boring. You have to be really dedicated.
Want to become a sweepstakes whiz? Here are three handy tips, courtesy of Vicki Tucker:
Be consistent: Most sweepstakes are held on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, so it pays to participate regularly. When it says enter every day, enter every day, Tucker said.
Be smart: Never pay to enter a contest or share personal or financial information that you wouldnt want in the wrong hands.
Be stubborn: You might not win big bucks, but you stand a good chance of scoring smaller prizes.