Steamboat Springs Hopes and dreams have been dashed for a lot of people who entered that essay contest trying to win a home in Steamboat Springs.
Homeowner Mike O'Carroll said there weren't enough entries to make it worthwhile. O'Carroll was looking for 2,200 people to send essays along with a $200 fee. That would equal a market value of $440,000.
"It's so disappointing; we really wanted to give it away," he said.
The house is actually one-half of a duplex located at 1850 Bear Drive just minutes away from the ski mountain. It is 3,100 square feet with four bedrooms. The O'Carrolls left Steamboat in December to live near family in Louisiana.
O'Carroll would not reveal how many entries they have received since September, but by Christmas, they had only 250 entries. He said entries started pouring in toward the end of the contest in April.
O'Carroll believed the lack of national publicity killed the contest.
"We've been really trying to get some of the national shows to pick it up, but we couldn't get them to do anything with it," O'Carroll said.
From the tone of the many original essays, poems, songs and homemade picture books sent in by contestants, O'Carroll said it was clear many hearts were set on Steamboat Springs.
"If I was a publisher, I'd put them in a book," O'Carroll said.
"We had a lot of people who'd been to Steamboat and wanted to come back," he said.
"There were some sad ones of people who had lost loved ones and wanted to go back to Steamboat for sentimental reasons, and interesting ones that came from the family dog or the children."
Now comes the complicated part returning those $200 checks to all the contestants.
O'Carroll said many of the checks and money orders went into a savings account. Checks that had recently come in would be sent back as is.
When asked if he made any interest on the money sitting in the savings account, O'Carroll said probably not enough to cover expenses.
"We probably had a couple thousand dollars of expenses," said O'Carroll, who also had a computer company set up and run a Web site with a contest address.
"I don't think it will cover anything."
O'Carroll said only one person complained about them keeping the money for so long.
"I told them we'd give them their money back right then if they wanted," O'Carroll said. But the contestant declined.
The Secretary of State's office said it doesn't regulate such contests and public information specialist Lisa Pitts said she wasn't aware of any public office that did.
Mike O'Carroll and his wife, Mara, have started going through a computer list of the contestants as they address envelopes and write out checks. Contestants who haven't received their check by June 8 should call them at their Louisiana home at (337) 475-6305.