I love second chance stories. Would you believe there are contest prizes that go unclaimed every year? It may be hard to imagine, but this does happen. A sweepstakes sponsor may just move 2nd place (and 3rd and so on) winners up the ladder if the top prize goes unclaimed, but they sometimes offer second chance drawings. And what about those smaller prizes? Many of those go unclaimed too.
There are different reasons a prize may go unclaimed. An entrant may have entered the sweepstakes on a whim and didn't realize that taxes would have to be paid on a high-end prize. But sometimes sponsors bought more prizes than there were entrants leaving a surplus. There may also be a time factor. Sponsors have a right to set a time frame for winners to claim their prizes as long as this is stated in the contest rules. Incorrect entries are another factor. Sweepstakes sponsors are sticklers, mainly for legal reasons, and all entry requirements have to be met before prizes are awarded.
Have you read sweepstakes rules and noticed the fine print stating where to find a list of all the winners or the address to send a request to for this list? The second chance drawing is one reason for a winners' list. There are sweepers who keep track of this as their odds of winning this drawing are greater due to less people entering. Companies aren't required to give away all unclaimed prizes, so they won't necessarily be awarded in an alternate way such as in a second chance drawing. This should be mentioned in the official rules of each sweepstakes you enter.
Another form of second chance drawing is offered by some states through their lottery systems, online games and scratch and win games. For instance, California offers a chance to win with non-winning scratch-off game tickets by entering a unique ticket ID and entry code printed on each card. Check your state lottery website to see if a similar option is available to you.
Find these second chances by keeping up with the sweeps you've entered—entry deadlines, winners' list, etc. Also visit your favorite sweeping sites and do a keyword search for 'second chance drawings' or similar phrase. Sweepstakes newsletters are a great resource too. Good luck!
Joerling, Dale. Do sweepstakes and contests sponsors have to award all prizes? Thompson Coburn, 2014.