Mall of America Scripts Confusing Writer-in-Residence Reveal

A May 1 winner's announcement was never explicitly promised

It was the best of contest times. It was the worst of contest times.
Headshot of Richard Horgan

Shopping malls are all about metrics; things like square footage, daily visitors and food choices. So let’s take the same approach with the Mall of America’s first-ever writer-in-residence contest.

The lead-up was solid. Around 4,000 folks applied for this 25th anniversary celebration opportunity, which will span five days, four paid nights of hotel accommodation, a $400 gift card and a further unspecified stipend. By April 1, 25 selected semi-finalists were notified and asked to follow up with a 500-to-800-word essay detailing how they would approach the job.

It’s the May 1 part that got a little muddy. The chosen winner was only notified this morning, which means that all sorts of factors could prevent that person from getting to the good news in a timely manner. We can only guess as to exactly what is transpiring, but what we can confirm is with the mall about to close for the day, the identity of the writer is still a mystery. Moral of the contest-story: sew up the winner a couple of workdays before the promised announcement date.*

The writer-in-residence’s daily shift will run for a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. An aggregate four hours each day must be spent sitting at an assigned desk. And it goes without saying that hot takes are to be avoided.

*Correction (May 3):
A rep for Mall of America informed Fishbowl today that the rules for the Writer-in-Residence contest specify only that the winner shall be notified by May 1. The date of the associated public announcement is not specified or stipulated and, as such (despite some confusion among the public and various semi-finalists), is at the discretion of MOA and predicated on full details being worked out. Fishbowl apologizes for the error.

Update (May 18):
The winner of the contest has been announced.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.