Monday, November 30, 2015

Essay contest to award rural Virginia property goes bust

The growing rural trend of awarding property to an essay contest winner for a minimal entry fee—typically $100 to $150—has led to big cash rewards for property owners, as well as accusations of cheating. Janice Sage netted more than $906,000 for her rural Maine inn, but the new owner—who got the inn for a $125 essay entry fee—says he has been harassed by people who didn't win the contest who claim they were cheated out of the entry fee for a contest that was rigged. Some have been accused of posting negative online reviews of the inn. (Roanoke Times photo: An essay contest to award The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount, Va., didn't receive enough entries to make it worthwhile to sell)

Tony and Shellie Leete didn't have the same success as Sage in their efforts to sell The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount, Va. The Leetes, who said they were hoping to get $499,000 from an essay contest with a $150 entry fee, failed to award a winner after receiving less than 1,000 entries, Casey Fabris reports for The Roanoke Times. The Leetes needed at least 3,300 entries to get the money they were looking for.

Shellie Leete, who "said she isn’t sure she would have been able to deal with that kind of backlash, and maybe the contest not working out saved them from having to do so," said all entry fees have been refunded, Fabris writes. For now the owners said they plan to keep running the business while trying to sell it the traditional way. (Read more)

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