Largo man giving away business and property to person who writes the best essay

Want to own a business in paradise? For the cost of a well-written essay, and $100, maybe you can.
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The owner of a hydroponic gardening store in Largo says he's giving away his 25-year-old business to the person who writes the best, 250-word essay expressing why they're most worthy.

That's the building, the land, the website and the inventory, according to the Facebook page for Simply Hydroponics and Organics. 

The catch is that it will cost you $100 to enter "as many times as you want."

Hydroponics refers to methods of growing plants without soil. Simply Hydroponics and Organics specializes in supplies and hydroponic gardening resources at 7949 Ulmerton Road in Largo. 

The contest rules also state that the business also has a lucrative online customer base and their website gets more than 500,000 visits each year. 

Owner Allan Bednar, 54, has "spent the last quarter century building something more than a business and now that he’s ready to move into the next phase of his life, he wants to find an individual who’ll be an amazing steward of what he’s built," the announcement reads.

“I want to make sure our customers will still be taken care of in the same way. After all these years, many of them are like family and we feel the same about our staff. We’ve tried to create something that betters the community,” Bednar is quoted as saying.

"Knowing that there are so many brilliant, good and talented people struggling to make their dreams a reality, they see this as an opportunity to bless at least one person with a dream come true," the contest announcement continues.

Entries will be accepted through March 15, 2018, and the winner will be announced on April 2, 2018. That date was  changed from April 1 after several people questioned whether the contest was an April Fool's prank.

"It slipped our notice that the announcement date was April 1st but several people have already questioned if this was for real (knowing Allan and I, can't blame them. lol). THIS IS NOT A JOKE! The announcement date is now, April 2nd," the store's Facebook page reads.

A banner hanging from a fence out front reads "WIN THIS BUSINESS!"

The owners say the top 25 essays will be judged "by three amazing impartial judges." Friends and family of the owners and judges are not eligible, according to the rules listed on their site.

Contest submissions must be made online, through the business' website at simplyhydro.com/contest.htm.

Bednar and the business were in the news in 2009 when the Tampa Tribune reported that an undercover detective launched more than a half dozen marijuana grow house investigations by running license plate numbers outside the store, raising concerns that gardening aficionados might be targeted by narcotics investigators.

At the time, Bednar said he was worried his customers were being "stereotyped and pigeonholed," while the sheriff's office denied any such profiling.

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