August 20, 2007 9:14 AM   Subscribe

When someone wins a "SPEND A DAY WITH [INSERT FAMOUS PERSON]" sweepstakes, what exactly happens on said day?

A friend of mine just entered Holiday Inn's "WIN A DAY WITH CAL RIPKEN JR." sweepstakes, which is what got me thinking about all these celebrity giveaways. Has anyone here ever won one, or know someone who has? I imagine the time you spend with the celebrity would be rather awkward and forced, but I don't know. That's why I'm asking.
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have been witness to such an event, and this is how it went:

1. There was a package so that the winner got a bundle of prizes such as transportation, hotel and a shopping trip. So it's not as if the winner was spending the entire day shadowing the "prize".

2. Towards the end of the day there was a meal, and that was where the real time spent occurred. But it wasn't one on one as there were record label people, management, PR plus photographer in attendance. Mainly it was a photo opportunity and a chance for the various brands in the contest to promote themselves.

3. The winner was able to bring a friend.

It was of course somewhat awkward, although the number of people there made it almost more like a party. Also I think the forced-ness is proportionate to the fame of the celebrity... if you meet some loser from Big Brother it's barely a big deal, whereas if you win Madonna or Bono you'll probably be lucky to breathe the same air as them.

Actually there was an MTV competition in the 80s in which the winners got to meet Michael Jackson - it's included on a Michael Jackson video called "Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues" and you get to see how staged the entire encounter is, right down to the Vaseline-smeared lens and the winners' creepy exploration round an empty Neverland interior.
posted by skylar at 9:25 AM on August 20, 2007

Another reference - which I assume is only partly fictional - is the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode called "The Thong", in which Rob Reiner asks Larry David if he'd mind being auctioned off for lunch as a fundraiser for "Groats Syndrome". Larry spends the meal desperately trying to be "affable" but clearly is embarrassed by the situation and offends his lunch guest.
posted by skylar at 9:32 AM on August 20, 2007

I won a contest to meet Tori Amos once. We went backstage before her concert, and got autographed Polaroids and she actually chatted a bit with all of us. Nothing interesting really happened, but some of the winners were a little overly obsessed and it all got kind of weird when they started crying. Then we all nibbled on back-stage foods for a few minutes and were shuffled out front to see the show. There wasn't time for much personal interaction, although suppose I could have slipped her a demo tape or a book of poems if I was conniving, but really I had more fun meeting her backing band who seemed genuinely surprised I was interested in them and their music.

So to answer your question, it can be forced, but it can just as easily be a lot of fun, it all depends on the celebrity.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:54 AM on August 20, 2007

Not me, but this is a pretty long read on what it was like for on eof the winners of the "Win a Dinner with Joss" Whedon charity auction...

posted by niteHawk at 10:23 AM on August 20, 2007


(sigh - it's been that type of day)
posted by niteHawk at 10:24 AM on August 20, 2007

From a celebrity point-of-view, on one of her Bravo specials, Kathy Griffin tells a whole story about auctioning off a date with herself for charity. The date was supposed to be to a concert (Kelly Clarkson maybe?), but the show got canceled, and Kathy scrambled to get tickets to something great so that the winner would feel like he got his money's worth. She sounded pretty genuine about the whole thing.
posted by clh at 11:03 AM on August 20, 2007

For a silly look at this phenomenon, check out an episode of UK Channel 4's Father Ted called Night of the Nearly Dead when Mrs. Doyle wins a contest and gets a visit from the rather saccharine boyish pop star who turns out to be an utter arse.
posted by kuppajava at 11:08 AM on August 20, 2007

I was a sportwriter, so I witnessed several "Make a Wish" type events with pro athletes. They go very well because a) the athlete is chosen specifically by PR as one that is receptive to such an event, b) the athlete gets PR/media training for handling themselves and c) the event is closely orchestrated by PR to avoid as much awkwardness as possible.

I've interviewed Cal Ripken. He really is a fine, upstanding, personable guy (although INTENSELY competitive ... don't challenge him, say, to a ping-pong game). He's met oodles of sick kids and wacky fans. I wouldn't say a contest winner couldn't be awkward with him, but the chance is about as low as it could get with him.

That being said, I've also seen bad events with sullen, spoiled athletes, too. I've also seen PR screw up pretty badly (one sick little girl in a wheelchair kept waiting on a hot day ... thank God that Detlef Schrempf had a brain and went out of his way to help). I guess in the end, it's pretty case-by-case.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:26 AM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I went to a couple meet-n-greets with bands before their shows (a "perk" of dating a radio dj), and they were pretty lame. There'd be maybe 10-15 people who had been the 10th caller at some point and won "a chance to hang out with XXXBANDXXX before the show!!!" All the regular joes would hang out in some room (maybe with free bottled water, if we were lucky), for probably half an hour. Most people would just talk to the one friend they were allowed to invite with them, and people were typically very bored. Then some PR person with extremely limited patience would herd everyone into a line, and the band would come out and shake people's hands one by one. You could get a quick autograph if you were ready with a sharpie and something to sign, but even then the PR people would make you feel like you were imposing on the band's time. Teens would break into tears at meeting the singer who had set their angst to music, the celeb would uncomfortably say hi (if they were cool) or roll their eyes and say hi (if they were jerks), and then move along down the line. After "meeting" the band, the people in the front of the line were quickly moved out the door to the main room of the venue, where the show was about to start and they were too late to get up close to the stage. Not worth it at all, in my book.
posted by vytae at 11:43 AM on August 20, 2007

A local high school student won a contest to have Christina Aguilera come to his prom and it was like one of the meet and greets with a jerk as described by vytae; a good description is here, if you can read through the annoying graphics.
posted by TedW at 12:27 PM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Depends on the celebrity, of course.

Thirteen or 14 years ago I worked for a magazine. During a fundraising drive, we had a Win Lunch with Molly Ivins contest. (RIP.)

The winner was Roy, a 70-year-old man from Tyler, Texas. We flew him to Austin for the day, picked him up at the airport, showed him around the magazine office, and then shuttled him to lunch with Molly. (He didn't get her to himself. The rest of the small staff attended too -- not to protect her, but because we all wanted to enjoy her company as well.)

I swear to god, Roy was on cloud nine. (He wore a suit and tie. It was so cute. Like he was on a first date.) Molly was very charming and talkative. She did what she always did -- told bigger-than-life stores. She sat next to him, put her hand on his arm, asked about his wife and kids, and generally flirted and yukked it up.

When I dropped Roy off at the airport, he thanked me profusely, told me that it had been the best day of his life. He had tears in his eyes.

The thing is, Molly Ivins knew it meant a lot to him, that he was excited about it, and she totally made it worth it.

My guess is that most celebs wouldn't take the same approach. She was just that great.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:44 PM on August 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

a finger in the butt if you ask nicely.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:52 PM on August 20, 2007

I won a chance to meet Alicia Keys backstage one time. It was a package that covered airfare, accommodation, meals, concert tickets, and other stuff. There were meant to be other winners but they couldn't come so it was me, my mum, and our guide (from the TV station that gave me the prize). There was supposed to be 10 people from a radio station meeting her too, but they weren't there, so we had Alicia to ourselves.

She was LOVELY! There were no PR people or whatever getting in the way; it was just us chatting. I did make a bit of a fool of myself (Alicia was trying to introduce herself and I thought she was calling me "Alicia") but she was gracious. We talked about music, about Malaysia, I gave her an article I clipped from the local paper that I got on the flight (she was surprised because it was a picture she hadn't seen yet) and signed my stuff. It was my mum's birthday the next day and I told her about it; she then asked "Can I call you Mum??" My mum was in Cloud 9 after that. It's been 5 years and she still calls Alicia Keys her "daughter". I think the prize was more for her than for me! haha.

It depends on the celeb, really. I got to meet the Black Eyed Peas for autographs but they were all really quiet and shy. Fergie was the friendliest one (she was the only one to say "hi"). I've met various radio DJs; some were awesome, some were not. It really depends.
posted by divabat at 1:28 AM on August 21, 2007

The fun thing is when a celebrity picks you up hitchhiking, but you don't have a clue who they are, even when they tell you. Oh, they don't like that! More fun are the ones that are delighted you don't know who they are, and relax.
posted by Goofyy at 8:13 AM on August 21, 2007

From a celebrity point-of-view, on one of her Bravo specials, Kathy Griffin tells a whole story about auctioning off a date with herself for charity.

She did this on her TV show too, with an eBay auction. I regrettably do not recall the details.
posted by smackfu at 7:18 PM on August 21, 2007

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