Get $100,000 for finding hardest working person

At one time, James Brown was the hardest working man in America. But since the death of Soul Brother Number One in December 2006, the world has been at a loss to find the hardest working person.

Now in steps Mitchum, the antiperspirant known for the Mitchum Man. It's having a contest to find the hardest working person in America. If you're not sure, the top prize of $100,000 may spark your memory. All you need to do is put together a two-minute video. The entries can be viewed on the contest website, and one by a grandson about his hard working grandfather is touching:

Who is the hardest working person in America? Is it President Obama? Some anonymous cowboy? The parent who gets their kid off off to school each day and keeps the house running? For many people, it's likely a parent who was a role model to them growing up.

The contest website has some examples: A cattle rancher, web entrepreneur, baker, coach, cop, florist and green developer. But for my money, it's the unemployed. These are the people, and I've talked with plenty of them since being laid off myself two years ago, who get up early and go to bed late, spending every waking hour looking for a full-time job and working part-time jobs so their family has a home.

And unemployment has touched a lot of families. Of the nation's 78.4 million families, 9.4 million families had at least one unemployed member in 2009, up from 6.1 million in 2008, according U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information released Thursday. That's 12% of families with at least one unemployed member.

The national unemployment rate is 9.9%, with a staggering 15.3 million people out of work. And almost 46% of the unemployed are without work for 27 weeks or longer.

Chosen from 10 finalists, Mitchum will give $100,000 to the best entrant, along with a film being shot about the winner by legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles. What Maysles should film are some of the unemployed and their daily struggles in searching for work.

If you don't get the top prize, don't despair. Second prize is $20,000, and an "Audience Prize" of $5,000 and a gold stick of Mitchum will be chosen from all entries. The deadline is July 11.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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