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365 days without a phone? Queens woman vying for $100G from VitaminWater

Elana Mugdan, 30, must complete regular check-ins and pass a lie-detector test.

Elana Mugdan,30, of Queens, was chosen to take

Elana Mugdan,30, of Queens, was chosen to take the Vitaminwater 'No Scroll Challenge,' where she will lock her smartphone in a cage for 365 days to earn a $100G prize.  Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

A Queens woman is ready to ditch a codependent and sometimes unhealthy relationship and strike out on her own.

The partner in question is her smartphone.

Elana Mugdan beat out more than 100,000 people to win a shot at the Vitaminwater Scroll Free for a Year challenge. If she can go 365 consecutive days without using a smartphone, Mugdan will win a cool $100,000 from the beverage company.

“I knew I was going up against some stiff competition,” said Mugdan, 30, a dragon-obsessed author of young adult fantasy novels who lives in Little Neck. “When I found out I won, I was just floored. I had to get out of the car and do a lap around the car to calm myself down.”

Mugdan won for her amusing video, a faux infomercial for “No Phone.” It shows the new “system” for connecting with family and friends by ditching your phone. She tapped into her background in filmmaking and enlisted her family and friends to appear in the video which caught at the attention of the contest’s judges.

“I’m really attached to my phone but I’m also very conscious of how the phone distracts me from real life,” said Mugdan.

Vitaminwater officials said the company decided to sponsor the challenge to continue its brand message of “breaking monotony."

“We don’t think there’s anything more boring than mindlessly scrolling through your phone, and this was our opportunity to take that stance against routine and give someone $100k to do something uniquely awesome with their time,” said Natalia Suarez, associate brand manager at the Coca-Cola Company, which owns vitaminwater.

Mugdan said the toughest part of giving up her iPhone for a year will be traveling without navigation apps as she promotes her upcoming book “Dragon Child,” the second volume of her “Shadow War Saga” series.

Taking on the yearlong challenge also meant she had to step away from her beloved “War Dragons” online gaming community.

“I couldn’t tell them why I was leaving, I just told them I had a big opportunity,” she said. “It was hard.”

Mugdan will be allowed to use a “1996-era” flip phone for the year and she can use a desktop computer for emails, social media and other communication.

There will be regular check-ins, and Mugdan will have to undergo a lie-detector test before claiming the grand prize.

She will be blogging about her life without a phone, the challenges and the positive aspects of having scroll-free time.

“I wanted to add a level of transparency and accountability,” Mugdan said. “The rest of the world will be watching.”


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