MANY successful people will tell you that what they have is built through hard work, and sometimes with a little bit of luck
However, there are some people who count on a whole lot of luck to pay off the work they put in to win in contests.
They are self-professed contest junkies, who have won prizes in the form of cash, products, vouchers and trips worth thousands of ringgit.
Some of them have been taking part in contests on a daily basis for over 20 years.
And quite contrary to the competitive stereotype, they are in close communication and notify each other about all contests.
StarMetro spoke to four contest junkies about their rewarding hobby.
Money for delivery
The year 2000 was the first time housewife Clara Lee Yuet Ling, 50, took part in a contest. It was organised by a mall and she won 5,000 points, which was redeemed for a dining table set and other furniture.
And she has been hooked ever since. She participates in contests every day and has won thousands over the past two decades.
Lee said she lacked talent in creative slogans and avoided such competitions. She confessed that her wins were mostly based on luck, and those contests offered cash or gold.
In 2002, she won the grand prize of RM20,000 in a contest organised by F&N Dairies and a local television station.
“The competition required contestants to rank their choices of dishes to match the list of top favourite ranked by a panel of media personnel and celebrity chefs.
“The contest drew over 20,000 entries. I sent seven entries and won the grand prize while I was pregnant.
“The money came in handy for my delivery, confinement and savings for my daughter, ” said Lee, a mother of two.
Another memorable win was a gold pendant worth RM3,000 in a contest organised by Nescafe In 2010. That same pendant is valued at RM5,000 now.
For a time, Lee and her family members won hotel dining vouchers eight months in a row from a monthly contest organised by a mall.
“We purchased a toiletry product and dropped our receipt in a contest box in the mall. In every draw someone from our family won, ” said Lee who had compiled the letters and news articles of her winnings in a ring file.
Lee said that she was thankful for all her blessings and regularly gives back to the needy, especially during the festive period.
Professional home makeover
Housewife Sheela Jayaraj, 50, was first encouraged by her husband to participate in contests.
She mostly participates in competitions that offer prizes of items that will be useful to herself.
Her strength is in slogan and caption writing. She allocates an hour every day to participate in contests.
The mother of two said her most memorable win was a home makeover by Dulux paint worth RM10,000.
The most meaningful win for her, however, was the chance to meet international author Robin Sharma in 2010.
She regularly wins local hotel stays, flight tickets, vouchers and months’ worth of product supply.
“I once won dog food and I decided to feed some of the strays in the neighbourhood.
“I also won a year’s supply of vouchers for a beverage brand. We used some and gave away the rest.”
On a different occasion, Sheela took part in a contest and won a three-month supply of adult diapers because an elderly member of her family needed it.
Free trip to Spain
Sheela’s son Abhijay Jayaraj, 23, was “trained” by his mother to participate in contests since he was 19.
His very first win was a grand one -- the Star-Qatar Airways La Liga Contest.
The contest required The Star readers to correctly answer questions about the Spanish La Liga, Qatar Airways and Spain.
Apart from getting to watch the Valencia-Barcelona match live at the Mestalla Stadium, seated in the directors’ box, Abhijay also got to tour interesting places in Spain.
The fresh graduate in finance and economics said he had been participating in contests since his undergraduate days.
“I would take part through my smartphone during my train commute and whenever I had free time on campus. Just like how my mother does it, I try to allocate an hour a day to focus on contests.
He said friends had asked him for pointers on how to participate, after seeing his social media posts of his winnings.
Abhijay said he was better at competitions that required creative captions and videos.
He has won about four smartphones and a tablet over the years as well as several PlayStations.
He also won a luxury stay worth RM10,000 --- the grand prize in a competition by PappaRich --- for a Father’s Day video he made.
Beginner’s luck x500
Nurmaisarah Ahmad Jailani, 29, may be the new kid on this block but she has won in over 500 competitions since she started joining contests in 2018.
The biggest grand prize in her record was a mattress worth RM15,000, which she gave to her parents.
She became an active contest participant upon the encouragement of her husband.
In her first year, she won in 300 contests and last year, she succeeded in over 200 contests.
“I look out for prizes such as food and shopping vouchers. I once bought a pack of milk and from the contest they organised, I won a cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner that I had been eyeing for a long time, ” said Nurmaisarah who had also won trips to South Korea.
The quality control executive said her strength was in contests that required creative photographs and captions.
“I always use my daughter as a model for my photographs and I seem to win, ” she said.
All four contest junkies dream of winning a car or a property in the near future.
While these contestants are regular winners due to their perseverance and a stroke of luck, they have come across some negative aspects.
“We the regular contest participants know of one or two people who are constantly winning grand prizes. The same individual would win hundreds of grand prizes, which we found strange.
“Many regular winners are friendly in nature but do not know much about these ‘regular grand-prize winners’, ” said Lee.
Meanwhile, Sheela claimed that there had been numerous instances when the winners were not given the promised prizes.
“Usually they would downsize the prize value after we won. I had come close to filing a claim at the consumer tribunal but before then, the organisers would normally produce the prizes as originally announced.
“The problem might not be with the brand that was running the contest, but the events company organising it, ” she opined.
Abhijay highlighted that with more contests being online based now, there were many fake ones created to fish for people’s personal data.
The long wait to collect their prizes was a common complaint, with winners saying they had to make repeated phone calls.
Nurmaisarah said it was disheartening too to find some organisers failing to abide by the rules for entries, which would have disqualified some.