Thousands write Millarville woman giving away $1.7M home in contest

Alla Wagner is giving away her $1.7-million luxury home to the winner of a creative writing contest — and so far, thousands of people have written to tell her why they should win.

Alla Wagner is reading an average of 500 letters a day

Alla Wagner said she's received more than 10,000 entries into her creative writing contest to win her $1.7-million luxury home. (CBC)

Since mid-January, Alla Wagner's inbox and mailbox have been flooded with thousands of letters. 

The Millarville, Alta., woman is giving away her $1.7-million luxury home to the winner of a creative writing contest. So far, she says, thousands of people have written to tell her why they should win — and how being the next owner of the lakefront property would change their lives.

"I've received letters from Russia ... letters from Turkey ... letters from China," she said. "I've received letters from all over the world."

Wagner launched the contest earlier this month, seeking roughly 65,000 entries at $25 each, as a way to not only make back her investment but also to offer people a chance to make her home their home.

She said it was time for her to downsize because back issues are preventing her from going up or down the stairs.

Wagner had originally tried to sell the home for $1.9 million, then lowered her asking price to $1.7 million before deciding to run the contest. 

Reading 500 letters a day

Now, she's spending her days reading hundreds of submissions.

"The first day ... I read 900 letters," she said. "After that I've been averaging 500 per day."

Wagner said the stories she's been hearing are touching her heart, and even though her contest has attracted world-wide interest, she's getting lots of letters from Albertans too. 

"In Alberta, we're hurting financially, and economically everything is really difficult here," she said. 

"And I'm getting a lot of heart-wrenching, crushing, crushing stories, and my heart just breaks for Alberta ... I can't stop crying sometimes, even if they're happy stories."

'Gives people motivation'

Wagner said people have told her about losing their homes, their jobs and their lives as they know them — but also that the contest has given them hope. 

"Even if they don't win, they're saying they feel like it gives people motivation," she said.

"That things that don't have to end, everything can rejuvenate and they'll end up back on their feet and get everything straightened out."

Wagner said she plans to keep accepting submissions until April 5th, with the option of extending the contest one month at a time for the following three months. 

After closing the contest, Wagner said she'll put together a judging panel made up of her neighbours, real estate agents and others who don't know anyone who's entered.

They'll pick 500 finalists, she said, and then the winner.


Lucie Edwardson


Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson or reach her by email at