Every year, millions of contestants enter to win HGTV's Dream Home, a stunning prize
that includes designer digs, a car, sometimes a boat, and hundreds of thousands in cash.
On the outside, winning this fabulous million-dollar prize package couldn't look any sweeter, but
behind the scenes, it's not all breathtaking views and waterfall countertops.
Here's the truth about the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway.
Settling down with Uncle Sam
Everyone knows that when it comes to winning a huge prize, the government will be waiting
on its share.
And winning the Dream Home is no different something the network clearly states every
year in the sweepstakes rules.
According to Vocativ's breakdown, the tax liability on an HGTV prize worth about $1.7
million, is roughly $700,000.
And that's just for the feds.
There are state and local income taxes, as well as real estate taxes.
So, what if you're a winner who doesn't have a cool $700,000 lying around?
You've got options!
Take the money and run
In 2018, Country Living reported the stats on HGTV's winner's circle, writing,
"Of the 21 people who've won Dream Homes over the years, only six, or about 28 percent,
actually lived in their home for more than a year."
According to The Press Democrat, most winners either took the cash option or sold the house
to satisfy the tax burden, and then upgraded closer to home.
Kathy O'Dell did exactly that when she won a sprawling Martha's Vineyard charmer in 2015.
She told Alabama.com her family couldn't front the nearly $1 million dollar tax bill on her
prize package, so they took the cash option, paid off their five kids' student loans, and
upgraded their family home.
Not designed for eternity
Spokespeople for HGTV have said on multiple occasions that occupying the Dream House isn't
necessarily expected of the winners.
Dream Home general manager Ron Feinbaum told Country Living,
"Winning one of these homes is life-changing in that recipients either pick up their things
and move or they suddenly have a large savings account.
[...] The overarching theme is that, if you win, it's life-changing."
But even if HGTV's endgame is a windfall of cash, there's a reason they build that house.
Moving that product
If you're wondering why every other commercial on HGTV is for Home Depot or Lowe's, it's
all about sales...And making us think we can easily gut-renovate our kitchens on a budget,
by the end of the weekend.
The HGTV Home Giveaway moves product because it's the perfect embodiment of this commercial
And no one made this more clear than Burton Jablin, the president of HGTV in 2005, when
he told Business Wire,
"Though only one person wins the home, every HGTV viewer can take away ideas and inspiration
[...] that can help them turn their own homes into the homes of their dreams."
The scoop on "winner's weekend"
Aside from landing more than $1 million in cash and prizes, one of the big perks for
HGTV Dream Home Giveaways is "Winner's Weekend."
This is when the lucky new homeowners get to visit the property for the first time,
and the network pulls out all the stops.
2002 winner Milton O'Bryant described the fun, telling The Balance Everyday,
"You will eat the finest foods, visit the area's best attractions, and receive numerous
gifts and keepsakes."
And sometimes you get even more surprises, as 2005 winner Don Cruz told the mag he even
met singer and actor Dwight Yoakam during his winner's weekend visit to Dallas.
Paying it forward
Though charitable contributions are a nice offset to the huge tax liability of winning
the Dream Home, some generous winners still find it in their hearts to give back large
portions of their prizes.
Florida retirees, Cheryl and Joe Smith, won a custom-designed Sonoma, California farmhouse
Not wanting to be far from their grandkids, the Smiths decided to sell the property.
But they also chose to donate the furnishings worth a jaw-dropping $187,000, according to
the Sonoma Valley Sun to the Ledson Harmony Foundation, which serves underprivileged children.
An HGTV win-win for everyone.