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A Look at Publishers Clearing House’s “$5,000 a Week For Life” Giveaway

By JLP | January 7, 2008

Publishers Clearing House is currently advertising a promotion where people can win $5,000 per week for the rest of their lives. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But, how good is it really?

Lets take a look at the numbers using my age (38) as the basis for the calculations. If I’m lucky enough to live to age 100, that’s about 62 years from now (or 3,224 weeks). If I were to win PCH’s prize, I would receive $16,120,000 in income over my lifetime:

3,224 weeks × $5,000 per week = $16,120,000

WOW! The only problem is, I left out two VERY IMPORTANT details:

1. Taxes

2. Inflation

The IRS wants their share and will withhold 25% of each check. So, from day one, you’ll be receiving $3,750 per week. In addition to that, the $3,750 per week stays the same dollar amount over your lifetime. Everyone knows that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar at some point in the future due to inflation. So, that means that inflation is going to eat into each of those $3,750 checks. In ten years that $3,750 will only have the purchasing power of $2,778 in today’s dollars. Using the numbers from the example, my last check (check #3224) would only be worth $583.46 (and that’s assuming 3% inflation. If inflation runs higher than that, the money will be worth even less).

Of course, there are ways around some of this. For instance, let’s say you are able to save 10% each week ($375 per week) for 42 years. During this time, you invest your weekly saving in an S&P 500 Index fund (like the Vanguard S&P 500 Index). Assuming a straight-line 8% return (.15% per week), at the end of 42 years, you would have an additional $6.77 million, which would be worth approximately $2.8 million after inflation.

So, it would definitely be to your advantage to save some of your winnings.

It’s fun to dream about winning the lottery but the winnings are never as good as they make them out to be.

Topics: Financial Math Basics | 61 Comments »

61 Responses to “A Look at Publishers Clearing House’s “$5,000 a Week For Life” Giveaway”

  1. Curtis Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Don’t forget, the tax brackets will also adjust over time at about the same rate of inflation. That means you may eventually be in a lower tax braket.

    That said, I could very easily make due for the rest of my life on that kind of salary!

  2. Dave Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Another way to look at is is to find the present value of an annuity that generates that payments stream. The online annuity calculator I use only goes down to age 40, but it says that a 40 year old male can get income of $21,667/month (=$5000/wk) for life with a single premium of $4,552,000. That is the value of the prize.

  3. Jay Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I agree, that’s terrible! Only ~3700 per week! How could I possibly be expected to live / give / save with a weekly income like that?


  4. Tom Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    “but the winnings are never as good as they make them out to be”

    It’s still free money.

  5. shiwala Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I guess it’s time to cancel all those crazy magazine subscriptions I ordered through them thinking I would get more chances to win! šŸ˜›

  6. Mrs. Micah Says:
    January 7th, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Heck, I’d take an extra $500/week. Wow. That’s actually about what we live on anyway. I’d probably invest about $1500/month in VFINX and the like and be so happy! :)

  7. Traciatim Says:
    January 8th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    This is just another reason to love living in Canada. No taxes on winnings.

  8. Dave Says:
    January 8th, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Traciatim Says: This is just another reason to love living in Canada. No taxes on winnings.

    I live in the USA, and I’ve never been taxed on any winnings. :-)

  9. pseudocode Says:
    January 9th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    So what happens if the winner lives for hundreds of years or more, as transhumanists anticipate?

  10. Francis Says:
    January 11th, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Iā€™m going to be the winner, and whatever weekly winning I get will help me out no matter how much it is.

  11. Willie Anderson Jr Says:
    January 11th, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    If i’m the winner my weekly winning will still help me out a great deal and then i can say i just won (what ever the winning is) from pch now i know it’s real.

  12. Cynthia Says:
    January 17th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Whatever the amount I win, and I am going to win, it’s a whole lot more than I live on now.

  13. Willie Anderson Jr Says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 2:37 am

    If I’m the $5000 weekly winner no matter what I receive after taxes, It will still help me out a great deal, and then I can say (with great joy) I’ve just won $5000 a week from Publishers Clearing House now I know it’s real. (then tears of joy will come and scream)

  14. Margie Zarella Says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    If I am a winner of $5000 a week for life I will be able to pay off my credit card debts. I would also be able to help
    my daughter pay for my grand-daughter’s Wedding.
    Then I can shout it from the roof top I won $5000 a week for life.

  15. Floyd Wilcox Says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 10:23 am

    $5000 per week is more than I ever comtemplated.


    It would be a lifesaver to me.

  16. Willie Anderson Jr Says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    If I am the winner I would give thanks to our almighty god first and then my friends Publishers Clearing House for my blessing. It doesn’t matter what I receive after taxes. I would then pay off all my debt, and with great joy and pride move out of my apartment into my beautiful blessing home. (House)

  17. patricia woodby Says:
    January 25th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    i just mail my ticket today i think it was the last entry for feb 29 2008.but if i won i would fix my house i just bought and save for my kids future.

  18. Cheryll White Says:
    January 30th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Thank you Lord for all the gifts you have given me throuout my 56 years….Please continually direct my path and be with me through conflicts and the great God days….

  19. Richard Says:
    February 2nd, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Has anyone ever won this prize?

  20. April Says:
    February 3rd, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Well I pretend that I have already won and make plans as such. It makes dealing with day to day like much easier when it is so hard to get by with a family. I would take 3750 a week over nothing anyday.

  21. mary piper Says:
    February 3rd, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    I would want to give a large ddonation to a charity of my choice

  22. Yvone Sarver Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I am a widow and I could use that $5000 a month Yvonne

  23. shelibeta Says:
    February 5th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    As a mother of 5 and unemployed, if am the winner I would thanks God first for his power and then the Publisher clearing house for my blessing. And whatever the weekly winning is it will help me out. I can expect a better life for my 5 kids.

  24. Yvone Sarver Says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I could us the money I am a widow and the money would really help me. Thank you Yvonne Sarver

  25. karen darin Says:
    February 8th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    God is able to be a place of refuge in troubled times which I am experiencing now. But if I won the money I would give all praise and glory to God and JESUS my Lord and saviour . I work in a ministry that doesn,t ask for offerings the money would be a blessing

  26. Dale Dnslow Says:
    February 10th, 2008 at 11:16 am

    I think any amount of money is better than nothing,
    think before spending .save when you can and enjoy
    what you been giving.

  27. Emma Says:
    February 10th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I am retired,I could really use that money,I would perfer a lump sum. Pay off my mortgage, credit cards,help my family,take a well needed vacation give a good portionto my Church and my other charties.I would just love to help people. Thanks, Emma Ussery

  28. Millie Folsom Says:
    February 17th, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    My husband and I are retired, love camping and meeting folks at campgrounds…we travel within 100 miles of our home since fuel is so high, would love to have extra money to pay off mortgage and help others that are in need…Thanks for your consideration of us…Millie

  29. Doris D Says:
    February 17th, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Money does buy you security when you are retired and living on a fixed income, this prize of $5,000 weekly would be a godsend to most people. We could get ourselves get out of debt, help our children pay off their college loans and help them with downpayment on homes, help our friends that need an extra helping hand periodically and also take a family vacation together. It would be a blessing from God and I would be most grateful and would donate extra toward their building fund. At my age I would prefer a lump sum but believe me, any amount paid in any manner would be just fabulous and very welcomed!!! It is a wonderful that PCH is giving all of us an opportunity to participate! Exciting!!!

  30. BB Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 9:16 am

    I am so happy and grateful now that I can say: “I just won 5,000 a week for life from PCH Now I know it’s Real!” I believe it!! Thank you God and the Universe for my abundance and bleassing of prosperity!

  31. patricia roden Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    pch thank you for the chance to win the 5000.00 a week. all of us have the same chance to win. god bless and good luck. pr.

  32. HP Says:
    February 20th, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Good Luck!!!! You know they still have swamp land For Sale.

  33. Maria Says:
    February 20th, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Heck! 1,000 a week is good enough for me!

  34. debra brylla Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I’d just like too win i’ve been into pch since the 70’s an still havent done nothing but spend money i’d love too win one day

  35. MONA Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 10:42 am


  36. Shawanda Rolack Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I will just be so, thankful.Then me and my three children can live our lives a bit more at ease.

  37. Paulzpc Says:
    February 22nd, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    funny how you read that you people would thank god …when I am 100% convinced that like that death row inmate, finding god after something good or bad has happened, most of you would be bumping into Jesus everywhere, my kids would be taken take of meaning their NEEDS for me, I would want only a roof over my head and food a small TV, a good used computer and a dvd box set of “House” the rest of it you all can fight god over…come to my house and each week the money I don’t use Ill throw on my lawn

  38. Paulzpc Says:
    February 22nd, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Ok my girlfriend said I sounded mean ,,,sorry I was just making a point that money and or the promise of being wealthy makes people think and act differently I would not act that way I would take care of my needs, really my wants are far to little to worry about, My children and their welfare,my family ( sisters),thats what I would do if I won..oh yeah and thank god..( there will be tons of my friends in hell so I am not worried)

  39. ms. mal Says:
    February 23rd, 2008 at 8:03 am

    All of you are saying I “would” thank God. Thank Him anyway, whether you win or not. Then you all will be winners.

  40. Ms. Nancy R. Says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 7:49 am

    I will not change if I won. It would just pay my bills. I have become ill and had to retire from my job. I have become disabled after back surgery. and coming down with fibromyalgia.
    I would just feel blessed if I won. I would be able to stay in my home. I have always been able to pay my bills. I have been getting help from a plan where I taught high school but it ends in four months.
    Which ever way, who ever wins they are blessd by God.
    God bless you all and good luck.

  41. KEITH TAYLOR Says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 10:39 am


    February 24th, 2008 at 11:21 am


  43. Flora Says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Looking forward to the 29th. Good things can happen – I rehearsed looking in mirror “This is really true – Publishing Clearing House 5,000.00 for life – Thank you so much, I won – I won”. Waiting to get the results.

  44. Toni Cluck Says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I absolutely do not mind that if I were a winner to give IRS 25% weekly. Bring it on!!

  45. Trudy Says:
    May 20th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I'm 82, have COD, do oxygen 24/7, have to live with daughter and family,
    I do as much around the house as I can. I pray each day to my Father and Jesus. I live on a fixed income, and my medicine is out of this world. If I win-
    I would give to the church for God's work, and try to help as many as I can.

  46. christopher Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 2:50 am

    I sure could use the money. I lost my job and so did my soon to be wife..well…… lets hope soon to be wife with no jobs now its hard to even take care of all of are kido's. I just hope PCH will be able to grant me this wish

  47. evey lester Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I so look forward to winning $5,000.00 a week for life to get out of the financial mess I am in. This would so help me right now since I am unemployed.I also need to help some sick and dying people in my life.

  48. evey lester Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Winning this $5,000 a week for life would truly get me out of the financial mess I am in.I would also help some very valuable people in my life who are suffering with there health.

  49. Caroline Says:
    May 31st, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I am an ederly widow who suffers from Lymphoma and the money would help so much. I would be able to hire some help so I may stay in my own home.Thank You Caroline

  50. Patricia Leon Says:
    May 31st, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    How do you know who actually wins? I have been submitting for over 30 years and have never found out who actually wins. I can't be that unlucky that after 30 years of entering, never to have won so much as an answer to who actually wins. I also don't understand how I know that I've actually gotten my entry in, on the internet. It's alot more difficult to know whether or not you actually got my entry. I keep getting more entries.

  51. Jackie Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Do you know anyone who has won

  52. Jay Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    IM NOT THat lucky to win something as nice as that

  53. PLD Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Who couldn't use $5,000 a week right now. Maybe we could go to Paris and have a date night for $30,000.00.

  54. jeffrey browman Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I have tried to win for over two years and there has still been no luck for me.I am really in a big financial situation right now and i hope one day soon i stumble up on that 5,000 a week for life.

  55. Douglas Childs Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    still don't understand what to search for!!!!!!!!

  56. Fredric Graham Says:
    June 12th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Worked 37 years in a mill and they closed the doors. I am 55 years old and like alot of other people in this world I am lost! This money will realy help my family.

  57. eugene butler Says:
    June 14th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    thankyou for giving me a chance

  58. Marie Grant Says:
    June 25th, 2009 at 1:14 am

    I could help my family out, and get nice things for my grandchildren.
    Marie Grant

  59. James Westbrook Says:
    June 25th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I have entered these sweeps sencs 1989 and haven't won a thing, I think its about time that I won something.

  60. Eloise Says:
    July 1st, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Regardless of how much money received each week, every "little" bit would help. At age 75, it would be nice to enjoy life without worrying about making ends meet.

  61. JOHN L. HARMS Says:
    July 6th, 2009 at 3:33 am

    i have been with PCH a number of years, and have enjoyed the items I have purchased, and now I would enjoy winning the sweepstakes. I would like to give to our church, and to the BIBLE CAMP, JOHN L. HARMS