I just received the following comment:
Why is it that you don’t think the Hawaiian Home Essay Contest is “legit”? Skill contests like this are legal in all 50 states as long as no element of chance enters into the selection of the winners. Having a panel of unnamed judges (unnamed to all but the Attorney General’s office so as to avoid possible judge-tampering) evaluate the essays on a set of pre-selected judging criteria is not considered chance for this type of competition.
Is it that you don’t like the idea because it is not a ‘traditional’ method of selling a home? Does it all seem too easy? It really isn’t. Hiring a real estate agent and then sitting back and awaiting an offer to come in is easy, albeit not always successful.
Running an essay contest takes a lot of hard work and money over a long time period (minimum six to nine months). Most essay contest organizers don’t seem to realize this, which is why most contests fall way short of ever ending successfully, and the entry fees end up getting sent back to the rather disappointed contestants. Hardly a scam, just poor implementation of an innovative idea. I only know of one contest, held in California a few years ago, that appears to have possibly been some sort of scam (no criminal charges were filed), and in that instance, the state Attorney General, along with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, stepped in and all contest entrants received their entry fees back. In the scammer community, the word is out that there are much quicker and easier ways to scam money than with an essay contest, and with a much greater chance of getting away with it!
I’ve been working with essay contest organizers for over twelve years. My website offers tips and advice on running such contests, information that I’ve gained over the years, and that I provide free of charge. My website also draws a steady stream of folks that wish to enter skill contests and who do so on a regular basis because the odds of winning are always so much greater than that of winning a state lottery. On my website there is also a list of some big winners of homes, restaurants & pubs, businesses, cars, an airplane, cash money, a pre-paid funeral and even a cryonic body-freezing after death!
I’ve talked with Sheri Smith by phone, and she definitely knows how much work her contest is going to require, and seems quite willing to invest the time and money to do it correctly. I wish her well with her contest. As this impartial observer in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where the temperature is currently down near 0 degrees, a home in Hawaii sounds mighty inviting right now. Of course I am ineligible to enter for obvious reasons, darn it. But hopefully, some lucky person will be handed the keys to their new “Sweetheart Cottage” later this year by Oprah. I’m rooting for a cold Northerner to win – you folks in Hawaii are already in Paradise!
So tell me Damon, besides posting innuendo about the contest organizers, their personal lives and their entrepreneurial ambitions, what is it that really bothers you about this contest?
— Mark Samwick,webmaster
The following is my reply:
Interesting you found your way to my website Mr. Samwick. Can you show me a list of verified winners?
I mean you say yourself the following:
“Mark Samwick of Allentown, Pa., who runs Essaycontests.com, estimated that only about 5 percent of the win-a-home essay contests launched by private citizens end with the keys being passed. Most offers die out from lack of interest, he said.”
“Ninety-eight percent of these things don’t work out, and that’s because of the way people go into them,” said Mark Samwick, creator of the Web site EssayContests.com, who is writing a book on the subject.”
Did you forget your own rule?
Essay contests are illegal in a handful of states and restricted in others; however, in ALL states it is illegal to incorporate any element of chance in an essay contest.
And what ever happened with the results of this one?
“Claudia Johnsen is giving away more than $3 million in property for a song. Or a poem. Or an essay.
“I don’t care what it is as long as it isn’t anything vulgar,” said the 79-year-old Alexandria, Va. resident and sponsor of U.S. Dream Properties, the largest essay contest of its kind.”
Samwick you have been taking people for a ride for nearly half a decade now. Please show me a list of winners that I can verify and I’ll get off your ass.
Until then… Keep your scams out of Hawaii!
“…it reads like at any time they can just call the whole thing off and send everyone their money back minus $11 “administration fees”
Hell that’s $66000.00 right there…
Not bad money for a very little work..”