My wife and I had been channel surfing one Saturday night more than ten years ago and stumbled across HGTV’s Dream Home Giveaway. The hosts were showcasing a spacious, new home in Winter Park, Colorado, nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, that they would be giving away in a few weeks to one lucky entrant.
My entire family, even my kids who were all pretty young, fell instantly in love with the house, valued at more than a million dollars. Who wouldn’t? My wife loved the beautiful kitchen; my kids drooled over the bedrooms, arguing over how they would divvy up the rooms; and I loved the spacious entertainment area and skiing right outside the front door. With big dreams in our heads, my wife and I made sure to fill out online entry forms each day of the competition. We figured why not. It didn’t cost us anything.
HGTV has been giving away a dream home since 1997. They showcase the new home each January and chose a winner a month later in February. The 2018 winner’s name was chosen from more than 123 million entries.
And the winner is . . .
As the announcement date came closer, my kids were convinced that we were going to win. I tried to put the genie back into the bottle, I tried to explain the logic of chance. I gathered the kids around our dinner table and did my best to to explain how infinitesimally small our chances were of winning. I remember comparing our chances to a small grain of sand. My kids all smiled and shook their heads in agreement, but they still didn’t understand. They were convinced that we were going to win. (Have you ever tried to explain risk, reward, and percentages to an eight-year-old? Yea, good luck with that.)
So the night of the big reveal, my kids sat around the television bubbling with excitement. They looked the way every kid looks Christmas Eve night. This wasn’t Christmas Eve though. I knew better than to get too excited, but even I couldn’t help but let my imagination run crazy for a few minutes. Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to move into the house and live like a multi-millionaire.
We, of course, did not win. Who wins these things anyway? We watched quietly as someone else won our home. My kids were fine—no tears, no temper tantrums—they even joked that we should drive to Colorado and demand the deed to the house, but it was still sad to see their disappointed faces. We went about our schedule just like we had the previous day.
In the years since, my interest has waned when I’ve read about past winners and that many have ended up selling their Dream Homes because of the sizable tax implications. My plan would have been to definitely keep it, if nothing more because I’ve joked so much with a coworker about winning the house, I couldn’t imagine giving it up.
We’ve talked as a family over the years about how our lives would have changed if we had won the house. Without question, we would have had our share of snowball battles. Yes, we missed out, but I don’t regret the dreams. I lecture my kids all the time about making their dreams come true. Now most of the time when we have this talk we’re talking about working hard to build a life that brings happiness, but it’s still important to show them how luck plays a part too.
The next house
I thought about the Colorado home this week as I entered HGTVs Smart Home Sweepstake, a similar campaign by the company. We still haven’t won that sweepstakes either. (The funny thing is that I rarely if ever play the lottery or other games of chance. I tend to be frugal with my money and see them more as scams.) But when it comes to the home giveaway, there’s still a part of me that holds out hope. I’m like the little kid who swings and misses, but keeps getting back on the horse and swings again.
You just never know, one day, just maybe.