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As the retailer’s former management once learned in no uncertain terms – JCPenney shoppers love their coupons.

Just ask the department store chain’s social media team, who worked into the weekend sifting through tens of thousands of direct messages as part of an impromptu coupon giveaway.

Last week’s record Powerball jackpot is what inspired the contest. There was only one lucky winner – and millions of disappointed lottery losers. So JCPenney offered to help turn $2 billion losers into $20 winners.

“Lose big on Tuesday? That’s okay, you’re always a winner in our books!” the retailer announced on Instagram. “Be one of the first 20,000 to DM us your losing lottery ticket and your email… and we’ll send you a $20 off $20 coupon.”

Initially, in exchange for a photo of a losing lottery ticket, a coupon would have been delivered via email by today, and valid for purchases today only. But there was apparently a lot more interest in the coupon giveaway than JCPenney anticipated. “You crashed our inbox,” a followup post read a day later. “So we’re moving the coupon delivery date to Wednesday, Nov. 16 to give our team time to get to all your messages.”

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And by Saturday night, all the coupons had been claimed. “Anyone who submitted an eligible ticket, keep an eye out for your $20 of $20 coupon in your email next Wednesday, Nov. 16,” JCPenney fans were told.

The scramble for JCPenney coupons is a far cry from a decade ago, when JCPenney was scrambling to kill off coupons for good. In 2012, then-CEO Ron Johnson declared coupons to be “a drug” and tried forcing customers to kick the habit by doing away with coupons altogether. But customers rejected his new “Fair and Square” pricing plan, and his attempts to modernize stores and appeal to younger shoppers also fell flat. Coupons slowly returned, and Johnson was soon out of a job.

But that was ten years and five CEO’s ago. The retailer’s latest CEO, Marc Rosen, told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that JCPenney’s latest mission is not chasing new, younger shoppers, but delighting existing customers. “We are loving those who love us,” he said. “We need to give them more opportunity to come back and find things they love.”

And a coupon offer to customers who already shop at JCPenney – and follow them on social media – proved to be just the ticket, to help generate some excitement ahead of the holiday shopping season.

If you missed out on a $20 coupon, JCPenney is also running a “Clear Your Cart Sweepstakes,” offering $500 coupons to 500 lucky winners.

And if you miss out on that? Well, there’s always Powerball. Nobody won Saturday’s $47 million lottery jackpot, so tonight’s prize is now an estimated $59 million. It may be a while before the top prize reaches $2 billion again. But if it does – keep your losing ticket handy. You never know when JCPenney might offer to help make up for your loss again, with a winner of a deal.

Image source: Instagram/JCPenney

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