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Written on all contest material in Canada (e.g. a free bag of chips), due to obscure lottery laws and the like, is a statement to the effect:

To win, you must first correctly answer a mathematical skill-testing question.

These typically cancel out nicely and you are left with some nice round number. Once, however, I entered a contest for a barbecue. The answer to the question was 12 and 17/19ths.
It was a Thursday in 1999, I was in university and very broke. I noticed that a discarded bottle of diet raspberry iced tea Snapple on the floor had some kind of “WIN! $$$” Thing on it. So I picked it up and read the rules. It said I needed the cap to find out if I won. The cap was gone. I felt vindictive and thought I’d be dammed if I missed my chance to win whatever it was so I read on . . . Go online for the rules. I did. I could send in a postcard to win. Whew! That was close. I still had my chance.

I did not win.

But while reading the rules I saw the phrase: Canadian residents must correctly answer a mathematical skill-testing question if selected as winner to claim their prize “That’s messed up” I thought. I just assumed that the Snapple people were real tight wads and did not want to give out the prize. “Bastards” I thought.

Well, today I happened to read some more contest rules, this time for PC World’s Sweepstakes. I saw it again! I knew something was up so I went an asked my local Canadian (our mailroom clerk here at work) He explained to me that in Canada you can’t have a sweepstakes that is a game of pure chance. It must be a game of skill. So if you win a contest they have you do a simple math problem, like “What’s 24+15?” and then you win if and only if you get it right.

I told my Canadian friend that he should do a write up on everything2 about this because it was just so fascinating. But, he just looked at me like I was crazy and said, “what the hell is everything2?” I showed him, but he thought it would be too much work. So, I did it. I do all the work and I never win anything. Oh Woe is me.

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