Let’s Talk Sweepstakes


As long-time readers know, on Fridays — like, you know, today — I do a week-in-review type of thing. Today, I wanted to let you know about a change I’m making with the newsletter, and why.

The short version:

  • I’m trying to grow the newsletter in a lot of different ways. The first step: I get more people to subscribe.
  • A great way to do get more subscribers is to run sweepstakes once or twice a month.
  • You’ll find out about those sweepstakes through separate emails that are specifically about the contest.

That last bullet is the new thing. I’ve run sweeps before, usually mentioning them at the top of an email or in a Weekender. Going forward, you’ll first hear about them in what’s called a “dedicated” email — basically, an email that is only about the contest. 

The FAQ and longer version:

I’m fine with this (and maybe I like winning stuff). Why are you telling me about this? (And are the contests free?)

I’m glad you’re cool with it! I once won an Xbox 360 in one of these, by the way. We never really used it to play video games but coincidentally, my DVD player broke two days earlier, so it’s been my DVD player ever since. Not that I watch a lot of DVDs anymore, but that’s another story (and not a very interesting one). 

I’m sharing this change because it’s a change and I believe in respecting my readers by being open and transparent. You’ve invited Now I Know into your inbox; this is the least I can do.

(And yes, the sweeps are free for you to enter.)

How do sweepstakes help grow the newsletter?

Good question! Basically, the sweeps are run by a bunch of newsletters. Each one invites its readers to enter. When you enter a giveaway, you’re agreeing to get an email from the other one. You give them a try (if you want to) and unsubscribe to the ones you’re not interested in. There’s a good chance, though, that you’ll like what you’re being introduced to; a quick estimate of my list suggests that about 10% of you found out about Now I Know via one of these contests.

Why send dedicated emails about sweepstakes? Why not do what you were doing beforehand?!?

Some of you won’t like it. It’s not what you signed up for. I get that, and if it’s an issue, you can click the “update your preferences” link at the bottom. Follow the steps and you’ll ultimately find a checkbox that says “Receive Giveaway Emails.” Set that to “No” and you (probably) won’t get them. I say “probably” there because the process to send giveaway emails is different than my typical process, and things will likely get screwed up there, especially the first few times.

You say above that this is the “first step.” What else is coming?

To be determined! The long-story-short version: For years, I’ve been working with a great company called Media Mobilize to bring high-quality sponsors into the mix here; you’ve seen a lot of those sponsors over the last few years. I’m expanding my relationship with Media Mobilize to help with other aspects of the newsletter. Helping me grow the list is the next step, and finding even more ways to help me keep it going are coming in the future, but nothing immediately. Regardless, I’ll share the update with you before it happens.

Is this Weekender still going to have the Week in Review and the long reads?

Yep! Let’s get to that now!

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: The Oldest Ph.D.: At 102 years old!

Tuesday: How South Korea Massages Its Workforce: Why the standard, PG-rated massage you’re getting in South Korea is probably breaking the law, and the unfortunately deadly struggle behind that law’s history.

Wednesday: Why You Should Be Careful Who You Honor: Just because someone has been “officially recognized” for doing something “noted” doesn’t meant he’s a good dude.

Thursday: Why Teams Wear Grey When Not At Home: I have a lot of opinions on sports uniforms, particularly baseball ones, and I didn’t share them in this story. You’re probably better off that way!

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “The Faker” (Medium, 16 minutes, September 2021). The subhead: “A prolific art forger meets his match in an intrepid FBI investigator, but the con is only just beginning.” I truly can’t resist art fraud stories.

2) “A Mistranslated Word Led To Some Of The Best Fake News Of The 20th Century” (FiveThirtyEight, 7 minutes, March 2017). A while back, we were convinced that there was life on Mars. (I read somewhere — but haven’t verified — that Spock was supposed to be a Martian, but Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was afraid that we’d discover actual Martians, and his prediction of what Martians looked like would be wrong. Hence, he made Spock’s planet of origin the fictional Vulcan.) Anyway, that turned out to be almost certainly wrong. So what caused the mistake? A mistranslation, it seems.

3) “I Tried 30 Mustards This Summer. These Were the Best.” (Inside Hook, 12 minutes, September 2021). This seems like a silly idea for an article — and one that has to take a long time because really,  it takes a long time to eat that much mustard! — but it has a history. In 1975, legendary chef and food writer James Beard wrote a treatise titled “I Love Mustard” for Esquire magazine; this is both a tribute to that work and an update on Beard’s takes on mustard.

Have a great weekend!