House Of Cards fans can enter for a chance to win a lunch with Kevin Spacey of “Freddy’s-style” barbecue, followed by watching Spacey rehearse a scene and a tour from showrunner Beau Willimon. The money raised will go toward the Geffen Playhouse and The Old Vic Theatre Company, of which Spacey is the artistic director. The Old Vic apparently needs a hefty injection of cash: The sweepstakes’ top-tier donation is $5,000, which gets you 1,000 entries toward the grand prize, the title of “President,” and lots of House Of Cards swag. The range of donation options dribbles down to $10 for the plebeians—or in this case, a “councilman”—which will earn you a mere single entry toward the grand prize, the consolation that you’ve helped the world of London theater, and no swag.
Of course, there’s always the option to pay nothing, with the “no purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win” text in small gray letters at the bottom of the contribution page. Those looking to skip the wallet-draining donations can instead send in a form or write their information on an index card and send it to California. But they would then have to grapple with their consciences, wondering if they’d be okay with having paid nothing but a postage stamp to win one-on-one time with Spacey, whose sole purpose is to raise money for his theater. An unscrupulous schemer like Frank Underwood probably wouldn’t mind, but Spacey might.
In case you’re curious about how that might play out, I did the math: A postcard stamp runs 34 cents, while a domestic first-class letter runs 49 cents. One could, in theory, mail out 1,000 index cards for a mere $340—or $4,660 less than the $5,000 donation that receives the same amount of entries. For those who print out the form and mail it in an envelope, 1,000 entries would cost you $490.
In summation, there are two options:
1. Spend $5,000 for the chance to hang out with Kevin Spacey and eat fake-Freddy’s BBQ Joint ribs while helping the cause of The Old Vic Theatre.
2. Spend $340 or $490 to hang out with Kevin Spacey and eat fake-Freddy’s BBQ Joint ribs while helping the cause of the United States Postal Service.
Option Two comes with the caveat that you have to do more work, and also that your entries might not be counted—because even though they say there’s no payment necessary to enter, one has to wonder. So maybe those in the second camp should channel their inner Frank Underwood and rethink their strategy in keeping with the cutthroat nature of this world. You have eight days left to make your decision.