Game shows give away cash and dining room tables. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, MTV gave away stuff like Jon Bon Jovi’s house.
Be in a Loverboy video!
The ‘80s rock band Loverboy were one of the first big stars of the MTV era. In 1983, they joined up with the video channel for a contest that would allow the winner to be the video for their single “Queen of the Broken Hearts.” A viewer named Bridget Magnesi won the prize. She didn’t exactly get to star in the video—catch a glimpse of Magnesi at the 0:18 and 0:23 marks in the video. She’s the woman sitting behind the control panel.
Win a pink house!
In 1984, MTV held the “Party House Sweepstakes.” Viewers sent in a postcard and if theirs was selected, they and 25 friends were flown to Bloomington, Indiana, for a house party hosted by John Cougar Mellencamp, who would play a live concert. And the winner got to keep the house, which had been painted pink, like in Mellencamp’s hit “Pink Houses.” Other prizes included a pink Jeep and a garage full of pink-colored Hawaiian Punch. MTV actually had to buy two houses in Bloomington for the promotion. The first cost a staggeringly low $20,000, which was because it was across the street from a toxic waste dump. A woman named Susan Miles won the house; she painted over the pink in 1991.
Make a Madonna video!
Madonna partnered with MTV in 1986 to allow viewers to make a video for her next single, “True Blue.” The network picked the five best, and allowed viewers to vote. The winners: friends Angel Gracia and Cliff Guest, who won $25,000 and got to meet Madonna. Their homemade clip was not used as the real video—Madonna made an “official” version later on. But it launched a career for Gracia. He was offered a job by Geffen Records to make videos for its artists, such as Snap and Enigma, and he’s since directed dozens of commercials and the 2010 feature film From Prada to Nada.
Win Bon Jovi’s house!
In 1989, Jon Bon Jovi, front man of Bon Jovi, allowed MTV to give away the house where he was raised. 26-year-old Judy Frappier was given the deed, on the air, to Bon Jovi’s four-bedroom childhood home in Sayreville, New Jersey, which MTV purchased from Bon Jovi’s parents. Bon Jovi gave them a tour of the house and shared some of his favorite memories—including the basement window he says he once used to sneak girls in and out of the house.