Ohio contractor wins $1 million in screwdriving contest

An Ohio contractor won $1 million Nov. 10 after defeating 15 other finalists in a competition to sink five drywall screws flush into a piece of wood in less than 7 seconds.

Jon Smith from Delaware, Ohio, earned the grand prize in Dewalt’s “Million Dollar Challenge” cordless screwdriving contest sponsored by Chevy Trucks. The contestants were matched against each other tournament-style during the event at the Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona.

“I had been practicing at home since April for this moment,” said Smith, who built a replica contest kiosk in his garage. “I was confident I could beat 7 seconds because I had done it before in practice. This was just two more times I had to do it, and it came out exactly as I had hoped.”

Smith’s competition included several drywall installers, two cabinetmakers, one remodeler, one builder, four carpenters, a door installer, a production manager and a painter. The country’s best drill-slingers were then eliminated until Smith and Mike Fischer, a carpenter from Huntley, Ill., clashed head-to-head in front of 100,000 spectators at the start/finish line before the Phoenix NASCAR race.

Smith beat Fischer by one second to win the tournament and advance to the million-dollar round. Then Smith cranked out a time of 6.77 seconds to win the grand prize.

DEWALT and Chevy Trucks launched the skill contest earlier this year. From April through August more than 50,000 people entered qualifying contests in 100 cities nationwide. Smith initially qualified at a Lowe’s store in Brooklyn, Ohio.

Chevy then held regional contests around the country to narrow the fastest 460 local qualifiers down to the final 16 contestants. All 16 finalists won a new 2003 Chevy Express contractor’s van with all-wheel drive, left-hand door and access panels filled with $2,000 worth of Dewalt tools and accessories.

Smith said he plans to put the money toward a house for his parents.