North to Alaska
October 7, 2003 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Only 10 days left - Free house and internet cafe business in Alaska all you have to do is write an essay. Well, not an essay, but a story, poem, or limerick. It is tempting. But the entry fee is slowing me down. Stupid gimmick? Nifty idea?
posted by yesster (19 comments total)
This is a (quite common!) way to sell a piece of property, the assumption is that the entry fees added up pay for it. (There's usually a disclaimer that if they don't get enough entries the contest is off.) There was an extensive article about this sales tactic applied to a NE bed and breakfast in a recent NYT. There's some tax break or something that makes it worthwhile, and also because people seem to think it's interesting there is usually a lot of publicity, which means the property can be "sold" for more than it is worth.
posted by neustile at 11:22 AM on October 7, 2003

well, i don't know about the ole essay contest thing...but i've heard it works.

i do know that wasilla is an interesting town...had some of the best chinese food ever in my life there. Pretty close --alaska standards-- to anchorage. Lots of moose, eagles, guns, lakes, and very cool people.

if you want to "get away" from it all, alaska really is a different world.
posted by th3ph17 at 11:23 AM on October 7, 2003

I've seen this sort of thing before; the owners are basically hoping to get $250,000 for their house without having to sell it in a more traditional way. The writing contest is a way to avoid the limitations on lotteries and/or gambling in most jurisdictions. The YMCA in Augusta use to raffle off a house each year in a similar fashion as a fundraiser.

I see on preview that eveyone else beat me to it.
posted by TedW at 11:24 AM on October 7, 2003

Yes, in the rules the minimum entry is 2,500 * $100 = $250,000 at least for the property. That's probably how much it's appraised for, and if the publicity works (ala metafilter postings) they'll get a lot more than that.

Also in the rules is if they don't get 2500 entries they return the money save $10, which means they could conceivably make $24,900 dollars and keep their house to sell on the real market.
posted by neustile at 11:26 AM on October 7, 2003

I'm confused and frightened by this photo.
posted by dhoyt at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2003

I'm confused and frightened by this photo.


After checking the site, I tend to think it swings more towards the scam side than anything else. For someone who runs an "internet" business, you'd think he'd be able to get some more pictures of the property up. Also the rules are incredibly vague...leading me to believe that there may not have been a lawyer involved, which may spell trouble for someone who "wins" a leased space. There's no mention of how much the lease is, whether or not it was a subleasable contract, how much if any is backdue, when the lease expires, what terms are set for renegotiation....there's a huge amount of info that isn't covered.

I wouldn't do it...but then again, I'm loathe to part with money unless there are tangibles being received.
posted by dejah420 at 11:47 AM on October 7, 2003

I'm not sure if I'd call this a scam or not, though clearly it's just a way to sell a home and business.

If you're a competant essayist who would enjoy living in Alaska there are worse ways to spend $100.
posted by mosch at 12:06 PM on October 7, 2003

BTW - I am not at all affiliated with this - my only interest is that I am tempted . . .
posted by yesster at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2003

Several years ago, an ex-girlfriend of mine decided to move north to Alaska with some friends because she heard about a wonderful money-making opportunity involving the canning of fish. ...she was never heard from again..!

*insert Twilight Zone music*
posted by ZachsMind at 12:28 PM on October 7, 2003

i did that wonderful money making opportunity 14 & 13 years ago. its basically like having 2 full-time, bad paying jobs while living in a tent.

good times though. some of us never made it back to the real world, that is true.

[tom? still out there?]
posted by th3ph17 at 12:40 PM on October 7, 2003

Write To Own Essay contests are unconventional - and mostly unsuccessful - routes to property ownership {sfgate}
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:58 PM on October 7, 2003

It's a raffle. The essay is the beard, like someone selling an $800 pen on ebay that comes with two World Series tickets, or like Woody Allen in Broadway Danny Rose, where he pretends to be Mia Farrow's husband to protect her from gangsters or something.

And sometimes my writing is a quagmire, like Vietnam. Or like my writing.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:03 PM on October 7, 2003

Wasilla is an interesting place in some respects, but if you enter the contest and win, don't expect to move to "Northern Exposure". The town used to be a wide spot on the highway up to Denali National Park and Fairbanks. It's now one of the, if not the, fastest growing urban center in Alaska. It's simultaneously a bedroom community for Anchorage, a large concentration of quasi-rural oddballs, and a bunch of nice folks who decided that Anchorage was just getting too big.
posted by mccreath at 2:14 PM on October 7, 2003

Zach's mind, I watched a Discovery Channel show on that.

Basically, the extreme conditions in which crabs, and other animals are farmed (a certain number of people die each year doing it) means the pay has to be extraordinary. But it's based on the catch, so do nothing and you don't eat.

Most people doing this are getting somewhere over $100,000 a year, and risking death doing it.

I might be wrong on the figure, though.
posted by shepd at 2:40 PM on October 7, 2003

Yeah, I ran a query on Wasilla properties on land up there is still really reasonable, which surprised me...I'd expected significantly higher per acre prices than I found.

That being said, I'm not sure I could live anywhere that cold....average temp in the summer is only about 50 degrees....brrrrr.
posted by dejah420 at 2:43 PM on October 7, 2003

shepd: You're thinking of fishing. Crab fishing in the Bering Sea is indeed one of (if not the) world's most dangerous jobs. But most people work in the canneries, which are on shore and not "dangerous" per se, unless you consider being paid badly for insanely long hours of dirty and fairly disgusting work while living in squalor with a motley collection of dropouts, freaks, and criminals dangerous.
posted by rusty at 4:25 AM on October 8, 2003

Damn, that sounds like expat life in Korea, but without the smog.

I'm there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:36 AM on October 8, 2003

rusty is spot on.

fishing is big bucks, and its dangerous. 18 hours a day in a cannery is a completely different sort of dangerous.

i worked for Peter Pan in Valdez, 89 & 90
posted by th3ph17 at 2:51 PM on October 8, 2003

And this does not constitute an illegal lottery how again?
posted by AstroGuy at 10:45 PM on October 8, 2003

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