Census earns man $500 prize

Published 2:09 pm Monday, April 5, 2010

LINCOLN, Ala. (AP) — W.E. Self made $500 just for filling out his census form.

Self was the first winner in the city of Lincoln’s census contest, a game devised by leaders to encourage residents to participate in the head count.

City bookkeeper Cheryl Martin drew the winning name Thursday at city hall, and Self was announced as the winner of the first $500 prize.

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“I will put it in my bank account and pay bills,” Self said.

Lincoln residents can complete their census forms and bring them to city hall as proof, then fill out a contest form to enter the drawing. The city initially called the drawing a lottery — posing a potential legal problem since lotteries are illegal under Alabama law — but later changed the name.

At the end of the census period, a second drawing will be held for another $500. A third $500 prize will go to the person who most closely estimates Lincoln’s population, which the last Census put at 4,577.

City officials said the contest has grown quickly in popularity, with 400 to 500 names currently submitted. Residents can still enter their names for the last two $500 prizes, said city clerk Laura Carmack.

The prize money was donated by city council members and the mayor. Residents bringing in Census forms also can spin a wheel to win gifts including a city of Lincoln pin, a Coca-Cola cap or shirt, a mug, and other prizes donated by area businesses.