Essay Contest to Win Mansion Flops

July 11, 2019

A homeowner in Millarville in Alberta, Canada, was offering her $1.1 million (USD) home for the price of $19 in a letter-writing contest for one lucky entrant. But after a lack of entries, participants will instead be getting their $19 registration fee refunded without anyone winning the home.

Alla Wagner, the owner of the home, started accepting submissions for her “Write a Letter, Win a House” contest in January for her two-story, Georgian-style mansion. Previous efforts to sell the home didn’t work, so Wagner was inspired by a similar competition in the U.S. and the movie “The Spitfire Grill.”

To enter, applicants needed to submit a $19 entry fee and write an essay—up to 350 words—on how moving into the lakefront home would change their life. The contest closed on July 5. Wagner says she plans to make an announcement on July 15 with the final numbers and results.

“Unless there is a miracle, basically the contest didn’t work, and I have to start refunding after the 15th,” Wagner told the Calgary Herald. “There’s all kinds of accounting involved with that.”

To have the contest work, Wagner would have needed to receive about 58,000 entries to cover the $1.1 million asking price of her home.

“Power of people didn’t rise up to make this contest happen,” she said in a video she posted on Facebook.

Wagner says that over the past six months she has poured through thousands of entry letters. To select the winner, she originally was going to determine 500 finalists and then use an independent panel to determine the winner of the home.

But since the contest didn’t work and one person won’t be able to own the property for just a $19 entry fee, Wagner told the Calgary Herald, “that’s the only thing breaking my heart.”