Own This Massive House For $199... and a Well-Crafted Essay

The only mortgage you'll need here is from the word bank.

A large Indiana home known as the "River House" can be yours for about the cost of an iPhone upgrade, plus one slightly intimidating catch: the homeowner has launched a writing contest to determine who deserves to own the 4,000sqft house, which features panoramic views of the Ohio River, a fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and even jetted bathtubs. Of course, you'll just have to pretend it's not in freaking Indiana.

Here's the deal: The person who writes the best persuasive essay in 200 words or less gets the house. To enter the contest, you have to submit your essay and the $199 entry fee (which goes into an escrow account) before the September 29th deadline. Then, the essays will be judged by an anonymous panel of judges from Hanover College. It's apparently that simple, according to the contest's FAQ

“I do not want the job to judging the essays, that would be tough,” the homeowner, Rhonda Penninigton, said in a report by WGN. “I graduated from Hanover College, I am an alum. I contacted them and they are supplying an anonymous panel of judges to judge… They pick the winner.”

Here's how the essays will be judged:

  • Does it follow the topic? (1 pt.) 
  • Is it grammatically correct? (1 pt.)
  • Does it show creativity? (2 pts.)
  • Most importantly, does it provide inspiration/vision? (6 pts.)

Basically, you should get together with your old friends Strunk and White and write a masterpiece detailing how you'll execute your vision of constructing a giant waterslide into the river, because duh. Everyone loves waterslides.

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and would write so many damn essays if it made his rent cheaper. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.