ST. LOUIS — They're the sweepstakes known for big checks and even bigger dollar amounts, but is the Publishers Clearing House giveaway the real deal?

That's what one viewer wants to know.

You've seen the ads — and likely received something in the mail — about the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

Sylvia wants to know if anyone actually wins those huge drawings shown on TV.

To find the answer, we went to the FTC, AARP and PCH's own website.

Let's start off by going into what Publishers Clearing House is.

According to their own website, they are a direct marketing company that promotes merchandise and magazine subscriptions. To do that, they go through those sweepstakes and other online games.

When you enter the sweepstakes, you're giving your contact information to them so they can try to sell you stuff.

That being said, it doesn't actually cost money to enter the contests.

Now if you go onto the "winners" tab on their website, you'll see a long list. It's true that these people have won money, but they are for much smaller amounts than what you see in their commercials. Most winners get between $5,000 and $10,000.

PCH's largest prize is the $5,000 a week forever prize.

They only draw a winner once a year, usually in February, with lots of fanfare.

So yes, we can verify that people do actually win money from Publishers Clearing House, but let's take it a step further.

Why do you rarely hear about someone in your area winning?

Their own website admits the odds of collecting that big check are one-in-6.2 billion. Those odds are almost like winning a contest that everyone on planet earth entered.

Just to give you perspective, the odds of winning the PowerBall is one-in-300 million.

The odds of being struck by lightning is 1-in-700,000.

So, to review, the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes is perfectly legal and they do pay their winners.

But becoming one of those winners, well, may the odds ever be on your favor.

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