[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/30/art.inaug30.gi.jpg caption="Inauguration preparation continues in Washington."](CNN) - The presidential inaugural committee has borrowed a page from the president-elect's campaign playbook, offering donors the chance to enter a lottery so they can be on hand for the big event - and now, an essay contest that promises the same chance for those who keep their purse-strings closed.
But the committee still expects something in return for a shot at the prize announced Tuesday, which includes: round-trip tickets to Washington, DC, a hard to come by two-night hotel stay, and tickets for winners and a guest to Barack Obama's swearing-in, the inaugural parade, and one of the night's official inaugural balls.
Those interested need to submit an essay by midnight on Thursday, January 8 on the question: "What does this inaugural mean to you?" Committee staff will pick the ten winners.
The committee has said they need to turn to untraditional fund-raising efforts because of new limits the Obama team has placed on the size of donations to help fund inaugural festivities.
Obama's team used a similar fundraising approach during the presidential campaign, offering supporters the chance to win tickets to his acceptance of the Democratic nomination in Denver this summer, and election night celebration in Chicago last month.