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October 29, 2010

Fourth-year conjures $10K out of Pottermania

Harry Potter “Uber-Fan” Ashley Demma walks without an invisibility cloak through the Hogwarts-like halls of UChicago, despite taking the occasional cyber-bashing.

Fourth-year Demma beat four other finalists in the Embassy Suites hotel chain’s “Uber-Fan” contest Wednesday. She was awarded $10,000, 20 free nights at the Embassy Suites, and an iPhone 4G.

Demma’s winning essay included details of how the book series influenced her life. To understand the meaning behind the spells the characters use, Demma took six years of Latin. She plans to incorporate the books in her BA thesis.

“Throughout the contest, there were a lot of people pulling for me and constantly asking if I’d won yet,” she said.

Over 40,000 members voted on the Facebook community for the contest. But after she won, Demma started to attract negative attention.

Most shocking to Demma was a comment on the Chicago Sun-Times article announcing her victory, written by a U of C alum.

“Basically, the alum said that I do not deserve to earn my degree from UChicago.” Demma said. “I haven’t written my BA yet, so this person doesn’t understand how I plan on relating Harry Potter to the classics.”

After the results were announced, the mother of a “Twilight” fan competitor wrote on Demma’s Facebook wall, calling her a bad, “Twilight”-bashing person with no class, Demma said.

Demma, a muggle, still celebrates her years as an avid “Harry Potter” fan.

“Growing up, I could feel what Harry was feeling,” Demma said. “Every generation can relate to it, and more people are fans than are willing to let on.”

She said she will use the prize money to visit the newly opened Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios in Florida.

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