Student's Invention Idea Nets $10,000 in National Contest


For NMU senior Brad Reddinger, an epiphany over chips and salsa turned into a lucrative reward. The Iron Mountain native was one of four $10,000 winners in Real Simple magazine's "What a Great Idea!" contest. The results are featured in the February issue. Reddinger's proposed invention was a "lifter jar" with a push-up bottom for easy access to the contents. He first conceptualized it during some late-night munching with his NMU roommate his sophomore year.

"I kept losing chips in the salsa jar or getting my fingers covered with salsa," he recalled. "As we sat and talked, I started describing my idea—a jar with a lifting bottom—and the concept just stayed with me.” 

Reddinger had no prior knowledge of the Real Simple contest; his girlfriend submitted his idea to the magazine, along with one of her own. Reddinger was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was selected as one of the prize winners. Between an interview and photo shoot with Real Simple, a story in his hometown newspaper, and an interview with TV6, Reddinger has discovered that he is now a celebrity of sorts. 

“I have had a few people call me from around the country to congratulate me, and everyone I talk to about it seems to know about it already.” 

Some of his $10,000 prize has been used to pay off his vehicle. While he doesn’t have any big plans for spending the rest of it, he’s sure that the money will “disappear slowly but surely.”


Reddinger said the jar idea may have netted a big payoff, but it was not his first invention.

“I used to hang out at my grandpa’s house when I was younger, and we would always try to come up with ideas to make our ice fishing easier," he added. "We would create special holders for the poles and things like that. As a result, it’s become natural for me to examine things and wonder how they could be made easier."  

Reddinger is pursuing a major in emotionally impaired elementary education. He is student teaching this semester at West Iron High School.


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Updated: January 18, 2006

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