Submission Deadline

11:59PM Eastern on Monday, February 17, 2020

The submission period is now over. The contest results will be announced by the end of April. Good luck to all of our contestants!


All essays should specifically address the Essay Topic, which is:

Income inequality is a hot button issue in America today. The super rich are blamed for taking so much, leaving the rest of Americans with so little—but is that true? Do millionaires and billionaires hurt the rest of us, or do we all benefit from the wealth they create? Watch John Stossel’s video on the contest page and write a 500-1,000 word essay examining income inequality. Is it fair? How does it impact people’s lives? Should we do something about it?

Eligibility – The contest is open to writers aged 12-18 at some point during the contest period (Nov. 20, 2019-Feb. 17, 2020). No more than one submission will be accepted for each essay writer. Writers must be located in North America or Hawaii, and all submissions should be in English. Employees of Stossel in the Classroom, Stossel TV, and Center for Independent Thought, and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Previous winners of a Stossel in the Classroom first place prize are not eligible for prizes in our subsequent contests.

Essay Length – Essays must be 500-1,000 words in length. Submissions that do not meet this requirement, or that exceed it, will be disqualified.

Deadline – Essays must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm Eastern Time, February 17, 2020.

Plagiarism – All essays must be the original work of the student whose name is listed on the submission form. Plagiarism will result in immediate disqualification.

Taxes – Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state, or local taxes on winnings.

Judges – Essays will be judged on their ability to answer the topic question in an articulate, clear, and organized manner. Stossel in the Classroom will evaluate essay submissions in a fair and unbiased four-round judging system, where judges will all use the same criteria. Judges will be selected by Stossel in the Classroom based on their backgrounds and expertise in education, writing, and the subject matter. Decisions of the judges are final.

Ownership and Use – The ownership of any submission remains the property of the writer, but entry into the competition constitutes the entrant’s permission and consent, without compensation, with or without attribution, for Stossel in the Classroom, Stossel TV, and Center for Independent Thought to use, reproduce, transmit, post, distribute, adapt, edit, and/or display the submission.


We recommend all students read this list of tips. It might help you avoid common mistakes that could cost you prize money!

  • Watch the Contest Video. You can find it above.
  • You can cite the video, but avoid basing your essay entirely on the video. Do additional research, make your own arguments, and give us your thoughts.
  • Proofread your essay before it’s submitted. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar count.
  • Be mindful of the 500-1,000 word requirement. Essays which fail to meet this requirement will be disqualified.
  • Be original. To win the top prize, your essay needs to stand out among thousands.
  • Cite your sources and check your facts.

We look forward to reading your essay. Good luck!

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