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Drilling for $1 million

Sunshine poured from a perfect blue sky and music of rough-hewn county rocker Charley Daniels thumped in the background. Jack Kelly, a Fargo construction worker between jobs, decided it was time to goof off a little. He stepped up boldly, as if e...

Sunshine poured from a perfect blue sky and music of rough-hewn county rocker Charley Daniels thumped in the background.

Jack Kelly, a Fargo construction worker between jobs, decided it was time to goof off a little.

He stepped up boldly, as if entering a carnival arcade booth, with five screws in one hand and a DeWalt cordless drill in the other. Exactly 22.63 electronically measured seconds later, the five screws were embedded in a piece of wood.

"Could have gone better," he said.

Kelly was among 180 area residents, most of them construction workers on a lunch break or between jobs, who competed in the DeWalt Million Dollar Challenge Thursday in the parking lot of Fargo's Acme Electric.

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Baltimore-based DeWalt sells power tools. Its nationwide Million Dollar Challenge marketing promotion promises to pay $1 million to a finalist who embeds all five screws the fastest.

The company is holding local qualifying tournaments in more than 100 cities. Local winners will go on to regional tournaments, and the regional winners will compete this fall in Phoenix where the $1 million can be won.

The local winner was Fargo's Ben Koppelman, who needed only 11.96 seconds to drive the five screws.

He goes on to compete in the regional contest, tentatively set for Chicago or Kansas City, DeWalt officials said.

Jason Sandland of Lake Park, Minn., also was among those competing in Fargo.

"I was here today on a shopping trip and thought I'd give it a shot," said Sandland, a former construction worker who's now self-employed.

He needed 15.84 seconds to drive the five screws.

DeWalt officials said the contest has generated a lot of good publicity nationally.

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Many of the Fargo contestants already were well-acquainted with the company's wares.

"I don't own anything but DeWalt tools. I've put Mr. DeWalt's kids through college many times," joked Kelly.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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