If you have ever used one of the big social media channels, the chances are high that you will have seen an advertisement for Omaze and the properties that you can ‘win’ through the company. One of the first questions that you will probably ask yourself is what your actual chances of success are, with the news not being all that good for people desperate to live in a mansion-style house or become a millionaire by winning it and then selling it on. We will go into more detail in the piece, but the answer is that the odds are ‘high’.
In actuality, the Omaze draws are a sweepstake, meaning that it is virtually impossible to calculate the odds without knowing more information. If you buy one ticket and only 99 other tickets are sold, your chances of success are 1 in 100. If 999,999 other tickets are sold, your chances are 1 in 1,000,000 and so on. In other words, the more people that enter, the lower your chances of winning are. Of course, the lottery is all but impossible to win in terms of odds, yet millions of people still play it every weekend. This is likely to be the same.
Figuring Out the Likelihood of Winning
Rather than referring to the odds of winning an Omaze house, it probably makes more sense to talk about the likelihood of winning. That is because the ‘odds’ are a very specific thing, involving mathematics and information that we just don’t have available to us. Something like the Lotto or EuroMillions is easy to talk about in terms of odds because they are set in stone. The odds of winning the Lotto jackpot are 1 in 45,057,474 and in the EuroMillions they are 1 in 139,838,160. Those odds remain the same, whether there is one person playing or five million.
When it comes to the houses and other things that you can win through Omaze, things work slightly differently. It is a sweepstake, meaning that your chances of winning are entirely dependant on the number of other people that also decide to buy a ticket. Working out how many other players there are is all but impossible, given the fact that the company doesn’t release that information. That, of course, isn’t all that surprising when you consider the fact that if you knew you were extremely unlikely to win you probably wouldn’t play.
Doing Rough Mathematics
In order to get a vague sense of how likely or otherwise you are to win an Omaze house, we can do some rough mathematics. According to the website, 80% of the funds that the company receives go to charity. The 20% that remains is used to both pay for the prize and to cover any expenses that Omaze incur. We can use that information to look at a previous house that was won through Omaze, one based in Ascot in the United Kingdom, and reverse-engineer some rough chances for people to end up victorious.
The first thing we need to do is get the £3.5 million that is needed to pay for the house, given that that is how much it was valued at. We know that 20% of 17.5 million is 3.5 million, so that is a solid starting point. If we round it up to 18 million in order to cover any expenses incurred in the setting up of the competition, we are able to surmise that Omaze will need to sell in the region of £18 million worth of tickets to wash their face. The most popular amount chosen by players is 40 entries for £25, with some giving more and some less.
On that basis, 720,000 people will have had to have chosen the £25 ‘donation’ in order to reach our target of £18 million. Realistically, it is probably likely to be a little more than that because not everyone will have chosen to opt for the most tickets. As a result, we can guess that about two million to three million people will have bought tickets of some form for the house sweepstake in question. Of course, each person might have bought a different number of tickets, which then confuses things further and makes the maths more difficult.
That is to say, if 720,000 people spent £25, each of them would have 40 tickets. That means that there would be 28.8 million tickets in the draw for those people alone. All of a sudden, your chances change depending not only on how many people it is that have bought a ticket but also how many tickets they have bought. There is a limit to the number of tickets that you can buy, but even so you can soon find yourself doing crazy sums to try to figure out what your chances are of success in the Omaze draw for a house.
It Is a Sweepstake
Ultimately, the way the Omaze draw works is the same as any other sweepstake. The number of tickets that are in the draw is one aspect of the mathematics that we need to do in order to figure out your odds of winning. Another key factor is how many tickets you’ve got yourself. Imagine a sweepstake for a bottle of wine taking place at your local social club, for example. It is £1 per ticket, but you can get a strip of ten tickets for £5. There might be 100 people that have bought tickets, but that doesn’t mean that 100 tickets have been sold.
Instead, half of them have bought one ticket for £1, another quarter have bought ten tickets for £5 and the remaining quarter have bought an average of three tickets per person. In total, then, 50 tickets were sold for £1, 250 tickets were sold for £125 and 75 tickets were sold for £75. The amount of money spent on tickets was £250 between 100 people for 375 tickets. Your chances of winning depend on how many tickets you personally bought. If you only bought one ticket, it’s one in 375. If you bought five the odds would be 5/375, or one in 75.
That is obviously a simplistic way of looking at things, but it perhaps helps to understand how Omaze works in a smaller scale. When it comes to the Omaze sweepstake, it isn’t about how many people have bought tickets but how many tickets have been bought. If one million people bought 40 tickets for £25, your odds of winning aren’t one million to one if you bought one ticket, but rather are closer to 40 million to one because that is how many tickets have been sold in total, presuming nobody else buys any.
If you want to give yourself the best possible chances of winning an Omaze contest, the best thing that you can do is to enter one that is likely to have fewer entrants and also buy the maximum number of tickets. That being said, not everyone will want to win a surfing trip to Hawaii, for example, whereas pretty much everyone would be delighted to end up with a house worth millions of pounds. With that in mind, if you’re trying to win a house then you need to accept that your chances of doing so are, sadly, very low.
The company itself was founded in Los Angeles, California in the United States of America. Created by Ryan Cummins and Matthew Pohlson in 2012, they can up with the idea after they had attended a fundraiser that gave people the chance to watch a basketball game with the sport’s first major star, Magic Johnson. That event took money from the highest bidder, but the pair thought that it would make more sense to offer people the chance to win a variety of prizes that more people could participate in by making it a sweepstake rather than an auction.
The company is a for-profit enterprise, partnering with various charities in order to raise money for good causes. Though the house prizes are the most popular, they aren’t the only ones offered by Omaze. You can also win the likes of celebrity experiences, material good and even lesser prizes. The amount of money given to the charities varies from case to case, which is another factor that makes it difficult to figure out exactly what the chances of winning are at any given moment. Here is a list of some of the charities that it has worked with:
- Product Red
- After-School All-Stars
- Julia’s House
- Make-A-Wish Foundation
The more astute amongst you will have realised that they are largely American companies. That is mostly because Omaze only launched in the United Kingdom in 2020, when it teamed up with Teenage Cancer Trust and offered a £1 million house. The company really shot to fame in the States in 2015 when it allowed people the chance to win a visit to the closed-set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, raising more than $4 million in the process. Prizes like that are why it has become so popular in the years since.
The way that Omaze handles the splitting of the money depends on a number of factors, including the country that it is based in and the prize on offer. The way it works in the UK differs from how it works in the United States, for example. In the US, it donates a different amount of money to charity when the prize is a celebrity experience compared to when it is a ‘prize-based experience’. In the UK, on the other hand, it is a set amount for all prizes. The owners say that it is ‘a place where we can all help each other achieve our dreams’.
Do People Actually Win?
The odds of winning a house through Omaze might be sky high, but the good news is that every draw has an assured winner. That being said, not all of the winners end up delighted by what it is that they end up with. In 2021, for example, the Daily Mail reported on the story of Darren Wordon, who won a £2.5 million mansion in the Cotswolds. It was obviously a dream for the father of two, especially as he spent just £25 buying his tickets and ended up winning not only the house but also £10,000 in spending money.
The house was based in an area of the country where the likes of the Beckhams, David Cameron and Amanda Holden also lived, so you would imagine that Wordon was thrilled to move in to his seven bedroom property near Chipping Norton. Instead, local residents were quick to warn him that the house was in a part of the area that regularly suffered from flooding. Willowbrook House in Radford sat in a valley that flooded virtually once a year. A cottage used to sit there and the water drained easily, but then a house was built and the flooding got worse.
As you might imagine, Omaze disputed the claims. In spite of the fact that a local in the area, Julia Boardman, spoke of flooding that ‘went straight in through the back door and out of the front’, the company dismissed it as a ‘non-event’ in a house that is in ‘incredible condition’. The local estate agent who had negotiated the sale to Omaze said that ‘any flooding issues had been dealt with’. It is also important to point out that the Mail’s story on Willowbrook House appears to be a one off, with the most important thing being that the houses really are won.