Matt Knutson: You can’t win if you don’t play the game

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, June 14, 2018

Things I Tell My Wife, By Matt Knutson

“You’re one of the luckiest people I know,” I texted my wife after she shared her latest winnings with me while we were at work. Sera was giddy; proudly sharing that we had just won free milk for a year from Hy-Vee. I didn’t even know we were eligible for such an honor, so I didn’t quite know how to respond to her initial news. It turns out that it was a contest being hosted on Facebook, and she won by luck of the draw.

My wife winning things isn’t a new phenomenon. She has mastered the art of entering contests to the point where I forget that it isn’t common for people to be this lucky. We’ve won concert tickets, dinners at local restaurants, a University of Minnesota baseball cap, a grocery tote, burger seasoning, movie tickets and more. I’ve had to specifically request that we don’t enter contests for things we don’t want, as I hate to see good prizes go to waste. A few years ago she’d be entering contests for events out of town that she’d have no intention of going to, just so she could win. Thank goodness that’s in the past.

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Clearly Sera is still motivated by winning, as evidenced by our latest milk haul. If she could, I’m sure she’d run up and down the aisles of Hy-Vee giving high-fives to everyone she’d meet in celebration of her victory. Instead, she’ll just visualize it in her head while she claims her prize at the customer service counter in an almost uneventful way. Perhaps it is for the best — I wouldn’t want this to get to her head.

I did pause a moment before we went to accept the prize. How much milk do you get if you get it free for a year? Surely it wouldn’t be unlimited, but I’ve never really thought about it before. More importantly, did they expect us to pick up all of the milk for a year at one time? We’d quickly run out of space in the refrigerator. My suspicious nature played with this thought for a while, knowing that it’d be a cheap work-around for them to give it all to us at once. I resolved that if they indeed force us to take the prize in bulk, we’d load up the SUV with as many gallons as we could fit and drop it off at a local food shelf.

Of course that’s not what Hy-Vee did. They gave us an envelope filled with coupons for free Kemps milk. I didn’t count them, but I’d hazard a guess that they gave us 52 — one gallon a week for the next year. They won’t expire until the end of 2019, so that should give us plenty of time to put them to good use. Interestingly enough, Sera doesn’t even drink milk that often. She normally prefers almond milk, so myself and our daughters are the ones who will benefit the most from this particular prize.

I’ve normally held the opinion that entering these contest is a waste of time. How often do you actually hear of a winner? Is it really a free prize, or are they just trying to capture your information to sell you something a few months down the line? However, time and time again Sera proves me wrong. The great lesson here is that you can’t win if you don’t play the game. Sometimes it’s worth calling into that radio station or commenting on that Facebook post. The excitement my wife gets out of winning is often more rewarding than the prize itself, and that feeling is something that we all need more of in our lives.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.