We thought the first one might have been a joke. Our open call for Rising Stars nominees brought in a nomination for one Mr. Sweepy of sweepstakestoday.com. The site's mascot, a rolled-up $20 bill with googly eyes and gloved hands not attached to his body named Mr. Sweepy, greeted us with disturbing jocularity. A second Mr. Sweepy nomination came in. Then another. Then more. Overnight, nominations flooded our form, and more poured in every minute. We sent a cease-and-desist request to the site, but to no avail. Sweepy would not be denied.
It seems Sweepstakes Today's founder, Craig McDaniel, had mobilized his army of stay-at-home moms, the elderly, legless Vietnam vets and latchkey kids: The site promised a free T-shirt for the lucky winner of a new sweepstakes. All entrants needed to do was send in proof they had nominated Mr. Sweepy for OMMA's Rising Stars. The forms themselves contained heart-breaking insights into the lives of sweepstakes players, offering the pinhole glimpses of a Carver short story.
Our first request to remove the link - where we told Sweepy, "OMMA's ballot box will not be stuffed" - went unanswered. But the second e-mail - where we again explained, "This is not a sweepstakes nor a contest. It is an internal process and is up to the discretion of the OMMA editors," and further cautioned, "Yes, Mr. Sweepy, although you are a rolled up $20 bill with no arms, I caution you not to cross me. I know how to make change" - received an emphatic reply. McDaniel (aka Mr. Sweepy) agreed to take down the link, with this caveat: "But understand, you had no rules posted as to who may enter. Thereby not only my thousands of members who love Mr. Sweepy want to see my success." Well, touché, Sweepy.
In this Rising Stars issue, we found it only fitting to pose our 5 Questions to Mr. Sweepy, who shares his experiences with his sweepstakes site. We, of course, also profile our 2008 Rising Stars, who are notably devoid of clever aliases and cute cartoon mascots.