RALEIGH, N.C., June 28 (UPI) -- A North Carolina man was named this year's champion of "The Great American Think-Off" in Minnesota for his essay on charitable giving.
The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer reported David Eckel of Clayton entered the contest, based in the town of New York Mills, with an essay taking the "no" position on this year's theme question: "Do the wealthy have an obligation to help the poor?"
Eckel said he took the position for his 750-word essay, which beat 350 competitors, because charity needs to chosen and not forced.
"If you force people," he said, "human nature is going to be to push back. So the wealthy, instead of thinking about 'What can we do to help?' they're going to be thinking, 'What can we do to get out of this?'"
Eckel and three other finalists were flown out to Minnesota to argue their positions in person. He was picked as the top entrant and awarded $500 and a gold medal.
"Several persons at the event offered that, while they did not necessarily agree with David's position on the question, they felt he offered the strongest argument for his position of the final four," said Jamie Robertson, executive director of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, which puts on the annual event.