By Tim Binnall
A rather sizeable cash prize is up for grabs to anyone who can prove that a legendary Minnesota lake monster, dubbed 'Pepie,' exists. According to a local media report, the odd reward is the brainchild of Larry Nielson, who serves as the president of the tourism bureau for the community of Lake City, home to Lake Pepin where the creature is believed by some to exist. For decades if not centuries, residents of the area have handed down tales of the monster lurking in the lake and, on occasion, claim to have spotted something that they suspected was the mysterious beast.
Himself a purported Pepie witness, Nielson says that he and his wife were once out on the water of Lake Pepin when something inexplicable produced a "big wake out there against the current. It was about 100-feet long and foot and a half high." Upon later learning of the legendary monster, the businessman came up with the idea to offer $50,000 for proof that the creature exists both as a way of solving the mystery and to attract visitors to the community. Although the reward has been in effect for seven years, the presence of Pepie has yet to be confirmed. That said, Nielson's latter goal appears to have been a success as the city has seen a demonstrable uptick in visitors since the prize was announced.
As for how one might go about collecting the Pepie bounty, it is not quite as simple as merely snapping a photograph of something anomalous in the water and then waiting for the check to arrive. The winner of the prize must not only take a picture of the creature, but also somehow procure a piece of the beast, preferably a fin or some skin. That material would then be handed over to a specialist at the University of Minnesota biology department who will determine if the creature in question is an unknown species residing in the lake. Meanwhile, the veracity of the Pepie photo would also have to be confirmed.
Should the results of these two fairly comprehensive tests prove satisfactory, then Nielson will award the $50,000 to whoever winds up successfully proving the existence of the lake monster. In addition to the cash prize, any individual who might wind up winning the cryptozoological contest will, of course, also earn bragging rights for having solved the Pepie mystery after all these years. And, we're guessing, that unique celebrity status within the community may be worth more than the reward itself as they'll likely never have to pay for dinner in Lake City again.