Finland’s contest mixing social media and living in an earth digger ends dramatically

The competition that’s gripped Finland for the last six months has come to a dramatic end after organisers – worried about the health implications of the remaining contestants who refused to leave the earth diggers they called home – declared the contest a draw.

Over the past 183 days the pair – 22-year-old student Kimmo Frisk and and 36-year-old Hannu Lammi – have spent their time living, eating and sleeping in earth diggers in shopping malls in the towns of Espoo and Tampere respectively.

The rules of the competition were simple:
– competitors were allowed only 30 minutes a day out of their earth digger. During this time they had to shower, go to the loo, etc.
– competitors had to constantly stream live video from their digger via an iPad and regularly interact with their online audience.
– the last man ‘sitting’ would win a Takeuchiearth digger worth €32,000, boasting a top speed of 4 km / hour.

The original six-strong field was gradually reduced to the final pair. And with neither of the remaining pale skinned, Nordic endurance athletes showing signs of cracking, competition organisers began fearing for their long-term health and declared the contest a draw – generously rewarding both with a new earth digger!

“While the idea of living in an earth digger was weird to start with, I actuallygot used to it pretty quick so the six months went by fast,” said Kimmo Frisk. “Even sleeping was easy at the end.”

The IT student – who’s now been offered an SEO job – said the unique experiment in social media forced him to make contact with a very wide range of fans.“It became a bit like Finland’s version of Big Brother – everyone seems to know me. But I know in a few months that will change. And people kept offering me things so I would leave the excavator. One guy contacted me through the Internet and suggested I come to his house and have fun with ‘a naked cow and a chicken’. No – I didn’t take him up on his invitation. The funniest time was the when a drunk guy kept bring me things to eat and drink – Coca-Cola, sausages, yoghurts. I don’t know why but I guess he was worried about my diet!”

The runaway success of the competition follows last summer’s Finnish earth-digging media sensation. Then 26-year-old Jukka Mutanen captured the country’s hearts and headlines with his 4kmh journey across Finland behind the wheel of his beloved mini-excavator.

Jukka – who didn’t take part in the competition – also broadcast his four-week, 1,000km odyssey live. “It’s additional proof – if more were needed – of the ability of the Finns to entwine their bizarre love of earth moving equipment with social media,” said Hans Eriksson, Executive Chairman of Bambuser, the company behind the free technology allowing the competition to be broadcast live onto the web.

“The Finns are very proud of what they call ‘sisu’ – it’s a Finnish sense of national pride in their mental strength, perseverance and determination. Surely there can be no clearer example of ‘sisu’ than people living in and live streaming from an earth digger for six months from a shopping centre! But when you remember that Finland is the home of endurance sauna contests, these strange obsessions seem somehow entirely natural.”