Last week, SPG announced their ‘Open the World’ promotion, which offers a grand prize of a week-long vacation at one of their exclusive resorts, as well as free night certificates, Amazon and Amex gift cards, and SPG points. You can play twice a day by entering your SPG number and email address here.

Like all of my friends, I’ve been dutifully playing twice a day, although my efforts thus far have been to no avail. Which begs the question, is this really worth my time?

As is a theme across many of my posts, I’m going to resort to some math to tell me the answer.

Let’s assume you have a 1/100 chance of winning on any given play with an average prize value of $20. The two estimates are fairly reasonable (though perhaps generous; I’ll get to that in a minute) given that I have heard of two winners among a group of about 30, and that the prizes range from 1000 SPG points to a $25 Amazon gift card. Note that I’m going to ignore the free nights and grand prizes because their probabilities are small enough that they balance out the extra value.

This morning, I timed how long it took me to play twice — 30 seconds. Given that the promotion runs through the end of September, that’s a total of 15 minutes over the course of the month (30 days * 1/2 minute per day).

With 60 plays and a probability of winning of 1/100, my expected chance of winning is 60%. Since we assumed that the average prize is worth $20, my expected value (read about that here and in a future post) is 60% * $20 = $12.

I gave up 15 minutes of my time to earn (on average) $12, which would come out to $48/hour for my time.

Whether or not that’s worth it to you is a question of how you value your free time, as well as whether or not you agree with my estimations of odds and the average value of a prize. If you think my estimation was high and that the actual probability of winning is 1/200, my expected value goes down by half to $6 in 15 minutes for a rate of $24/hour for my time. Not worth it, if you ask me.

…now back to my cannoli.