Obama's Presidential lottery: Win dinner with Barack Obama - but is it legal?

Send in three bucks and you can win a dinner with Barack Obama. Photo: Associated Press

CHICAGO, September 29, 2011—People laughed when I told them I was thinking of sending in three bucks to enter a chance to win a dinner with the president.  

The idea came about when I received the following email inviting me to send in a donation and win a chance to dine with President Obama:

Peter —

Not everyone knows how to prepare for a dinner like this. As someone who’s eaten countless meals with my husband, I want to tell you the one thing to do if you’re selected to join him…

Just relax. Barack wants this dinner to be fun, and he really loves getting to know supporters like you.

I hope you’ll take him up on it before Friday’s deadline.

Will you donate just $3 today and be entered to have dinner with Barack?

These dinners mean a lot to Barack. They’re a chance for him to talk with a few of the people who are driving the campaign — and a chance for him to say thank you.

So come prepared to tell your story, and say whatever’s on your mind.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be there. Donate $3 or more today, before the September 30th deadline:





“Prizes.  Four (4) winners will each receive the following prize package (the “Trip”):

  • One round-trip coach-class airplane ticket from the major airport closest to the winner’s address within the continental United States to a destination within the continental United States to be determined at the sole discretion of the Sponsor (“Destination”), including ground transportation to and from the airport at the Destination. (approximate retail value $800.00)

  • One night’s stay for winner at a hotel at the Destination on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion in a single-occupancy room or room of equivalent value (approximate retail value $150.00);

  • Dinner with President Barack Obama at the Destination, on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion (approximate retail value $200.00);

Approximate retail value of the entire Trip package: $1,050.00.” (Obama for America/Rules)

Airfare, ground transportation, hotel, and a dinner with the President. How can you go wrong for three bucks?  According to the rules, the winnings are taxable. How cool is that? You win a trip and dinner with the president and get to pay your fair share.    

Friends told me no one wins those things. It’s all just a gimmick to get your money. The odds are probably millions to one, just like state lotteries.  

But, hey, sometimes people do win those. If you don’t play, you can’t win. You miss your opportunity. America is the land of opportunity right? 

The emails are from the President and First Lady. They even sign them with their first names, “Barack” and “Michelle.” Would the President of the United States run a lottery scam? Would he lie, run a con, or perptetrate a fraud?

Since I complain about Obama so much, why not spend three bucks on a chance to complain to him in person? He might even listen.

I only have two questions. Can the President of the United States run his own lottery? 

And, is it ethical? 

I get stuff all the time from non-profits inviting me to enter fundraising drawings. I just never think to question their legal status. I usually just toss them in the trash. But, I have never received any email or snail mail for a presidential sweepstakaes. My curiosity was piqued.

According to the rules, the promotion is governed by the laws of Illinois. So, at the very least, it is legal someplace.   

Barack Obama is a cult figure, but he is not a church yet. Will Barack Bingo halls start cropping up all over America soon?   

The promotion claims four people will be chosen as winners. How? Do they put the names in a hat, a rotating drum, or pull them out of their … never mind. 

Earlier this week, Jim Messina, the grand poobah of Obama’s campaign, sent out emails gently shaming people for not contributing. He took a little heat and comic criticism from the opposition. 

Barack and Michelle really want people to enter this lottery for dinner with the president. They need to raise money to keep the movement going and “change the course of history”. 

Compulsive gamblers should send in the kids’ milk money, not waste it on the ponies. People should send in multiple entries - the only way to win. This is the chance of a life time. You might win the chance to tell your story to the president. He may use it in a speech. 

You’ve heard these stories before. People like Jerry from Joplin, Wendy from Wasilla, Desmond from Dallas, Mary from Muncie, or Harry from Hoboken. The President sprinkles their names or stories in his speeches like brightly colored candies on ice cream.   

So, before I send in my three bucks, can anyone tell me if the presidential dinner lottery is legit? Did anyone win the last Dinner with Barack promotion and how did it go?

One last thing. Does what happens at dinner stay at dinner?

Peter Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance writer, freelance photographer, and consultant.  He is a passionate cook and eater.  He likes to be the sharp stick that pokes, annoys, and provokes.  His opinions are his and his alone.  

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/#!/pvbella

Twitter- https://twitter.com/#!/pvbella

Website- http://petervbella.com

Email- pvbella@gmail.com  




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Peter Bella

Peter Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance photographer, freelance writer, budding videographer, and passionate cook.  He aims to be the sharp stick that pokes and annoys.  The Middle Class Guy is a political column written from a center-right point of view.  While concentrating mainly on politics he will stray into culture, entertainment, sports, cooking, and humor from time to time, along with Memories of things Pabst.  All from a middle class perspective.

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