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Contest Addict Reveals Her Winning Secrets (VIDEO)

HuffPost Weird News   First Posted: 02/21/2012 7:11 pm Updated: 02/24/2012 3:37 pm

By her own account, 37-year-old graphic designer Di Coke is a winner -- and the record backs her claim.

Coke, who lives in Nottingham, England, with her 38-year-old husband, Rob, is obsessed with winning contests and has done pretty well for herself.

In the last 13 years, she's won more than $284,000 worth of prizes, including more than $50,000 in cash, a pink VW beetle valued around $19,000 and more than 30 vacations to places like Brazil, Antigua, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and New York, according to Express.co.uk.

Di even won her father's weight in chocolate once.

What makes her do it? Coke told BBC reporter Tim Muffet that it's the thrill of the chase.

"It's a hugely thrilling and exciting hobby, and every time you win something -- even if it's a tiny thing -- you get really excited, so you just want to enter more and more," she said. "I don't think I'd ever be able to give it up. That's probably saying I'm an addict."

People have been entering magazine and newspaper contests for more than 100 years, but the rise of the Internet in the last 20 years has made participating much easier, and the advent of social media has increased the scope of contests. Yet there is little proven research about their potential addictiveness.

Still, Marc Griffiths, a gambling studies expert at Nottingham Trent University, said the growing evidence suggests there's a link between gambling and "contesting," at least in Britain.

"Since the introduction of the National Lottery in 1994, gambling has become more socially acceptable," he told the BBC. "What we're seeing now is a convergence between gambling, gaming and competitions. All these things are coming together now."

Coke told the Express.co.uk that her first contest win was a TV and, after that, she was hooked.

Early wins like that are often the worst thing that can happen, Griffiths said.

"If you win early in your playing career, that actually keeps you going a long, long time after you would normally stop," he told the BBC.

But where some "contesters" rely on chance, Coke has a system for winning big -- and often.

"Go for competitions that require the most effort," she told the BBC. "With simple prize draws, there's going to be thousands of entries and you won't have a good chance of winning. Competitions that require a photo or a video or a recipe aren't going to get many entries at all. I actually won a contest last year where I was the only entry. That was a holiday."

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