Between a rising price of residing, wages which have remained stagnant for many years, a staggering nationwide $1.5 million scholar mortgage debt, and a important scarcity of inexpensive housing, the American dream of proudly owning a house has grow to be little greater than a laughable fantasy for a lot of millennials, who’re turning into owners later and at decrease charges in comparison with earlier generations.
Enter Jimmy John’s. The sandwich chain, identified extra for its speedy supply than for notably memorable subs, has promised to purchase one fan an actual home as a part of its new “Home in the Zone” contest. From now via October 4, would-be owners can enter by submitting a 250-word essay. From there, 500 entries will probably be chosen at random, and from that pool, the essays and different standards will probably be used to whittle finalists right down to award a single winner as much as $250,000 to go towards the acquisition of a home inside a Jimmy John’s “sandwich delivery zone” (inside 5 minutes of a Jimmy John’s retailer).
The only catch, it appears, is that entrants are solely eligible to win in the event that they stay outdoors Jimmy John’s 2,800-plus supply zones, which truly isn’t as limiting because it appears — the closest Jimmy John’s location to New York Metropolis, for instance, is throughout the Hudson River in Jersey Metropolis, which means that basically all of Manhattan is outdoors Jimmy John’s supply zone.
It’s one other signal of those unusual, darkish instances that attaining homeownership by means of a sandwich chain’s advertising stunt truly sounds … fairly interesting? The scheme is paying homage to Burger King’s marketing campaign earlier this yr to get individuals to obtain its cellular app with the tantalizing promise to erase $250,000 of scholar mortgage debt, and KFC’s pledge final yr to provide away a $11,000 faculty tuition fund to the primary child born on September 9 — the birthday of KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders — and named after Harland. As Joe Pinsker wrote for the Atlantic, a baby’s “naming rights were effectively purchased by a company that sells fast food.”
Nobody can fault the strange individuals who enter these sorts of sweepstakes — hell, there’s even a recreation present during which contestants compete to repay their scholar debt — for greedy onto the faintest risk of easing monetary burdens for which there appears no aid. However the truth that such stunts even exist — and present no indicators of petering off — is an indictment of the bigger political and financial forces which have ruled our society to this bleak conclusion of rising revenue inequality and an eroding hope that every era will do higher than the one which got here earlier than it. What does it say about our establishments when a sandwich chain’s providing of a home seems like much less of a moonshot than the notion of turning into a home-owner via one’s personal financial savings?
These contests by Jimmy John’s, Burger King, and KFC are cynical, capitalizing on desperation and monetary hardship to seize eyeballs for the sake of eventual revenue. What we want are insurance policies and systemic change, not corporation-run zero-sum video games favoring only a few, arbitrarily chosen, fortunate saps. However till that occurs, why not try to get that free sandwich home?