Essay contest to win Catskills cabin canceled

Couple started contest after failing to sell house

Catskill Mountains

A couple who failed to sell their Catskills vacation home made the cabin a prize in an essay contest last year. But after fewer than 600 people paid $149 and wrote a 200-word essay to enter the Win Lakefront Dream Home contest, they have canceled it altogether.

The contest started Nov. 1, 2016, and would have needed to attract 5,500 entrants by the April 30 deadline for a winner to be chosen, The New York Times reported. If it had met that threshold, the contest would have garnered $820,000 for the two-bedroom cabin in Bethel, New York.

The hundreds who did enter will receive a $100 refund. The New Jersey couple who organized the contest, Andrew Bares and Kelly Lavorgna, will keep the entrants' $49 administrative fee. 

“I’m disappointed that it didn’t work out,” Lavorgna, 57, told the newspaper. “You want somebody to be the winner.”

The couple hoped to unload the property, and then sell the contest platform to other homeowners. But neither of their hopes panned out.

Bares, 43, bought the land in 2007 for around $750,000. He spent another $350,000 building the cabin.

The couple spent about $50,000 to create and administer the contest. Costs included hiring judges, a lawyer to draft the rules, and a publicist to promote it.