Win the Shirt Off Madoff’s Back!

Add that headline to the list of best/worst newspaper contests to go down in history. The New York Post is promoting a contest to win one of three polo shirts embroidered with the logo of Bernie Madoff’s 55-foot yacht, “Bull.” The Post purchased the shirts at an auction of Madoff’s assets for $1,300.

The contest promo reads,”If Bernie Madoff stole your shirt, here’s a chance to get one of his … Don’t worry — Madoff’s grunge won’t rub off on you. Just like his victims, the shirts have been taken to the cleaners.”

Of course, there’s a catch. Like all newspaper contests, this one is aimed at selling more papers and boosting circulation. In order to enter, readers must purchase the Post at least three times this week, find a printed coin “token” featuring Madoff’s profile hidden each day in the Post’s pages, and then affix three of the Madoff tokens to the official mail-in entry form.

Tricking people into reading the Post isn’t quite a swindle on the Madoff level, but it’s a clever little bit of gimmickry in the constant circulation battle with rival Daily News that would do the turn-of-the-century Hearst and Pulitzer newspaper wars proud.

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Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.