The Great American Think-Off Committee has extended the deadline for essays for the 2020 Great American Think-Off to April 15, 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect daily lives, it is their hope that while everyone adjusts to a new normal, this allows ample time for people to submit an essay answering this year’s question: “Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?”

Everyone likes to win, but at what cost? What if the rules aren’t fair? What do you think?  The 2020 Think-Off Committee wants to know!

Write an essay of 750 words or less, based on personal observation and experience, and you could win one of four $500 cash prizes, plus an all-expense-paid weekend in New York Mills, for the live debate on June 13, 2020.

People of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to submit an essay. There is no fee to enter. Submit your essay in one of three simple ways: online at (preferred), via email at, or mail responses to Think-Off, c/o Cultural Center, P.O. Box 246, New York Mills, MN 56567. Essays must be submitted/sent/postmarked by April 15, 2020.

Four finalists will be selected by a volunteer committee who read the essays (with all personal information redacted) to ultimately select two finalists on each side of the debate. These four finalists will participate in three rounds of live debate on June 13, 2020. The individual who makes the best argument will be selected by audience vote as “America’s Greatest Thinker” for 2020.

"The Think-Off (is) a very unique opportunity — there are few if any opportunities for adults to debate and discuss relevant and controversial topics outside of ‘gotcha’ politics and sound bites being put out of context on Twitter. Instead, the Think-Off is a place where one can fully express one's ideas, have them considered carefully, and engage in civil discourse." — Anthony Berryhill, 2018 Think-Off winner.

The live debate event is scheduled for Saturday, June 13, 2020, at 7 p.m. at the NYM School auditorium.  All are welcome to attend the great debate and cast a vote to help determine the answer to this year’s question and name America’s Greatest Thinker for 2020.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 218-385-3339.

For more information, visit, or call the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339.

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