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SALT LAKE CITY -- Wired magazine wanted to see if a person could literally disappear and start a new life. Sure, you could become a mountain man and shun civilization, but it wanted to see if someone could completely erase themselves and start a new, normal life.
So, reporter Evan Ratliff took the challenge and vanished. Wired Senior Editor Nicholas Thompson says there are some ground rules to this challenge.
"He has to go to a city, the kind of place he'd like to live. He has to do the sort of things he likes and he has to stay online," he said.
Now, Wired readers have the challenge of finding Evan.
"Since the beginning I sort of thought this was a 50-50 proposition that he would get found during the month," Thompson said. "Today, I think it's probably a little better than that. I think people are closing in."
Before Evan left, he gave all of his e-mail and bank account passwords to Thompson, basically giving Thompson the information a private detective might have. Thompson has taken data from those accounts and posted it online. Some of this data leads him to believe Evan will be in Utah this weekend.
Thompson says Evan is an obsessive soccer fan and even said he wanted to go to the World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and El Salvador. He even marked the game on his calendar.
"We've got information that he's bought a plane ticket with a layover in Salt Lake City," Thompson said.
If you spot him at the game, you could win $5,000. But, if Evan is found, he essentially loses $3,000, so he'll do his best to stay out of everyone's view.
"I don't know for sure that he's going to be there and if he goes there and suddenly it looks too dangerous, he's going to walk away," Thompson said.
So if you see him, keep your cool. Here's how you claim the prize.
"When you say the word ‘fluke' [to Evan], he has a second code word he will say back to you. You then e-mail that second code word to me at Nicholas_thompson@wired.com and you win the $5,000," he said.
You also have to take Evan's picture. He was spotted in a video someone took in Venice Beach, so finding him is not impossible. The challenge started Aug. 15, and if Evan stays missing through Sept. 15, he wins the challenge.