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Pandemic "dream job": Company offers $1,000 to play Animal Crossing

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A company that provides internet speed comparisons is dangling a pandemic "dream job": Earning $1,000 to play 50 hours of Animal Crossing, the Nintendo video game that became a hit during the nationwide shutdown earlier this year. 

The offer is clearly a promotional stunt for the company, Salt Lake City-based HighSpeedInternet.com, but the company said it's received 12,000 applications in the few days since it announced the offer on July 6. That's more than the total 5,000 applications it received last year when it made a similar offer to play 50 hours of Fortnite to earn $1,000.

The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on Americans' finances, with almost half of all workers experiencing a loss of income since mid-March, according to Census data. The company's goal was to "help and do something fun during a really bad time," staff researcher Victoria Merinda told CBS MoneyWatch. 

"We're looking for kind of an everyday person," Merinda said of the ideal applicant. "You don't have to be a professional gamer."

She believes Animal Crossing became a hit during the pandemic because it's a "wholesome, fun, light game," she said. The Internet research company decided it wanted to key into the cultural issues going on in the pandemic, like the widespread popularity of the game.

Last year, the company's goal in offering $1,000 to play Fortnite was to highlight internet speed issues faced by gamers, especially those living in rural areas that lack high speed connections. "It affects if they live or die in the game if their internet speeds are lacking," Merinda noted.

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Merinda said she'll be looking through the Animal Crossing applications by hand, after screening for some basic requirements, such as being over 18 and owning a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as well as a Nintendo Switch. 

The latter qualification may prove to be an issue for some people who would like to throw their joystick into the competition: The Switch has been largely sold out for months at retailers like Amazon and Target.

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