I put this in the “only in Alaska category”, although it’s a brilliant idea that I’m sure will catch on in Atherton, CA with a slighly higher entrance fee.
A couple in Anchor Point, Alaska (15 miles from us in Homer, where my wife Amy lived until she was eight) is running an essay contest where the prize is their house. The entry fee is $100 and a 100 word essay that starts “If I could do anything I wanted …” The owners will select the top 100 essays and a panel of independent judges will pick the winner and the runner up. The deadline is August 25, 2004, although the owners reserve the right to extend the contest for up to a year if they don’t get enough entries (they need 1,100 to get to the $110,000 investment they have in the house.) They also reserve the right to cancel the contest and will send back $99 of the $100 if they do this to cover postage and handling.