One of the weirdest trends in 2015 was a growing tendency for owners to give their businesses and homes away as the winning prize in an essay contest.
During the year, property owners offered up their inns, restaurants, farms, and movie theaters through essay contests, along with an untold number of homeowners who also tried to cash in on the idea.
There’s even a Facebook designed to track all the essay contests giving away property in the country.
The trend may have started as early as 1993 when the owner of an inn in Northern Maine first offered her business as the ultimate prize in an essay contest. It was popularized in 1996 by the movie The Spitfire Grill and has gained momentum in recent years as social media has made advertising easier and cheaper.
— Nichole Mischke (@KHQNicholeM) December 29, 2015
Bill Mosca gave away his Blue Hill Inn in scenic Maine through an essay contest, and now he works as an essay consultant answering 70 to 80 calls a week, reports the New York Times.
“There are no states I haven’t heard from. Will it go on forever? God knows. But it has been more than a year now and I’m still getting calls. There’s a tremendous interest out there.”
Lately, homeowners have jumped on the essay contest bandwagon in an effort to unload their expensive property that’s no longer worth what they paid for it, they haven’t met with the same success.
The idea is simple: instead of getting one person to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s easier to get thousands of people to put up a hundred dollars.
— Deerfield Valley Inn (@deerfieldval) November 3, 2015
It’s not as easy as it sounds, though.
When the owner of the Center Lovell Inn in Maine decided to sell her business earlier this year, she decided to use the same method she used to acquire it: an essay contest.
By the time the contest was over, the inn’s owner had faced 15 complaints filed against her with state’s attorney general’s office, an inquiry by the state police, and numerous angry phone calls from losing contestants.
Even if there are no complaints during the process, it’s still a lot of work. Owners offering their property up during an essay contest could expect a constant influx of visitors examining their homes and business along with contestants calling to learn the rules.
— Win High Meadows Inn (@Highmeadows) October 27, 2015
After all the work of reading and sorting thousands of essay, some contests eventually fail; either not enough entries are received or the owners simply decide to continue operating their property.
Some of the more interesting 2015 property essay contests:
The owner of the Center Lovell Inn near Kezar Lake, Maine, eventually made more than $900,000 after receiving 7,255 entries of 200-word essays, according to the Press Herald. Each entry came with a $125 entry fee.
The owners of the High Meadows Inn in Scottsville, Maine, have extended the deadline for their essay contest till January 31, 2016, so there’s still time to enter to win their historic bed and breakfast. Simply pay the $150 entry fee and write a 300-word essay about why you would be the right person to own an inn.
Back to Business: This is the essay you should write if you are entering a contest to win an inn http://t.co/hwiVzOzns3
— Bangor Daily News (@bangordailynews) July 2, 2015
The Mendo Bistro owners offered their restaurant in Fort Bragg, California, through an essay contest, but cancelled it after an outpouring of support from the community.
Unfortunately, no winner was declared in the essay contest giving away the Humble Heart Goat Dairy & Creamery in Alabama; not enough entries were received and the owners decided to close the contest, according to Community Newspaper Holdings.
If you’re feeling lucky and have an extra hundred dollars, why not try your luck in a property-based essay contest in 2016.
[AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File]