Best contest prize ever: Knight in Eiffel Tower

The Union of European Football Associations soccer tournament will be in Paris from “10 June to 10 July 2016.”

Ordering the date as day, month and year is how Europeans and much of the rest of the world does it. I think writing a date from smallest unit of time to largest is very logical and makes a lot of sense. Europe and most of the world also use the metric system which also makes a lot of sense. But that’s another column.

This column is about the grand prize a vacation rental company called HomeAway is awarding to the winners of a contest in conjunction with the upcoming tournament. The prize? Four different winners each will have the opportunity to stay for one night in a specially designed apartment on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.

HomeAway’s CEO Brian Sharples calls the move “unprecedented” which it surely is. Amy Wright, account director for Saatchi & Saatchi, the advertising agency in charge of the event, notes: “Only Gustav Eiffel ever used the tower as his own.”

Winners will be chosen based on their 140-character answer to the question, “What would you do if the Eiffel Tower Apartment was all yours for the night?” My answer is: “For most of the night I would stand at the railing and gaze out over the “City of Lights” with my wife Becky by my side while sipping some fine French red wine.”

That is a pretty uncreative answer which I don’t expect to be in the running. Still, given the opportunity, I am sure that is what we would do.

The first time I visited the Eiffel Tower was 2 July 1994. I’ve made a few trips back since then, the last being 21 June 2004 with Becky. It hadn’t changed much in those 10 years. From the first floor where the apartment will be constructed to the highest level, it is a breathtaking experience. It is the Eiffel Tower, after all.

This contest started me wondering why other select places around the world don’t offer a chance to spend a night in their famous structures. The Pyramids in Egypt, for example. I’m not sure how much I would enjoy that, though.

Becky reminded me that there are no windows which might be kind of claustrophobic. Then I remembered those black and white movies from my childhood featuring Boris Karloff as the Mummy and I decided that a chance to tuck in for the night in Tut’s tomb would not be a contest I would take a chance on. I would have the same trepidation about the Paris Opera house (Phantom) and Notre Dame Cathedral (Hunchback).

I thought about places closer to home and the White House came to mind. The thing is, spending the night there wouldn’t be all that “unprecedented.”

It is well documented that a night in the Lincoln Bedroom has been offered to serious money donors for at least the last three presidential administrations. Now I understand that, as the saying goes, money is the mother’s milk of politics, but wouldn’t a national contest to allow us common folk a chance to snooze in Abe’s bedroom be, at the very least, a good PR move? I would even bring my own towels, soap and shampoo.

If they ran it like a lottery and charged just a small fee, they could use the money to help pay for one of the myriad government programs we can’t seem to do without and can’t seem to eliminate. It’s just a suggestion.

Anyway, I will be following the results of the Eiffel Tower Apartment contest with interest. If I were to win, I would need to get my airline tickets by 10 June when the tournament starts. It’s a long flight; Paris is 6,710 kilometers from Indianapolis.