iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A man who spent $49 on a raffle ticket has won an entire island resort in the Pacific.
The story begins with Doug and Sally Beitz who 24 years ago opened the luxury Kosrae Nautilus Resort in Micronesia. They raised four sons in paradise. When the Beitzes decided it was time to head home to their native Australia to be with their grandchildren full-time, they came up with the idea to raffle it off. To one lucky person.
That lucky person is reportedly from South Wales. He, like all the other contestants, spent just $49 to enter the raffle.
The Beitzes said their decision to hold a raffle instead of a traditional property sale stemmed from their desire to hand over their lives’ work to someone who had dreamed of island life just as they once did. They wanted their resort to go to a person who would respect the island's precious ecosystem -- not just someone with the deepest pockets.
“We wanted to make our resort affordable for everyone,” Doug Beitz explained. “While we are sad to part with it, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to make someone’s dreams come true.”
Anyone anywhere in the world over the age of 21 was eligible to win. Under the contest's rules, if fewer than 50,000 tickets were sold, the raffle winner would have won a cash prize equal to 50 percent of the total ticket sales instead of the resort.
Adam Beitz, one of the couple's sons, told ABC News that the majority of tickets were sold in the U.S., with Australia as a close second.
The owners say the resort is debt-free and profitable. It has 16 long-term employees, and has a minimum occupancy of 55 percent guaranteed through August 2017.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Fewer millennials are buying homes than in the past six years, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday.
Just 34.1 percent of Americans under the age of 35 owned their home, a decline of 0.7 percent from the second quarter of 2015. Millennial home ownership has fallen 4.9 percent since the same period in 2010.
The fall underscores a trend affecting all age groups. The data released Thursday showed that home ownership has touched a 51-year low.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While polls seem to always be shifting as to who's on top in this political season, one market analyst has identified an election winner that may offer comfort of a different kind: pizza.
In a research note to investors, Chris O’Cull, a restaurant industry analyst at KeyBank, said he believes interest in the election has motivated many people to stay home and order in, rather than eat out.
Foot traffic to casual dining restaurants was down 5 percent in June, he wrote.
“We believe the civil and political disruptions that have negatively impacted restaurant dining may be helping pizza operators that deliver to consumers,” he wrote in the note.
Notes like this are short messages sent by analysts and others to advise clients of expert opinion on investments, and are usually not based on any in-depth study. Rather, they are based on the analyst's experience and observations, so they should be taken with a grain of salt, so to speak.
O’Cull told ABC News that his analysis was based on conversations with businessmen and women in the sector.
“We talked to a private restaurant company and they said that their sales had been very weak during the DNC convention,” he said, pointing to anecdotal evidence.
At DeMo’s Pizzeria and Deli in Raleigh, North Carolina, co-owner Anthony DeMarco said he’s certainly noticed an uptick in delivery sales as of late.
“We’ve definitely seen a spike for sure," he told ABC News.
“Throughout this whole summer we were expecting it to be pretty slow,” he said. “We have done a good bit of delivery, a lot of delivery actually.”
O’Cull said that he doesn’t necessarily think people are afraid to dine out or feel uncomfortable interacting with others that share differing political views. Instead, he said he thinks it's simply interest in televised political events.
“More folks are engaged in the political environment right now,” he said. “We’re just seeing more engagement around watching the debates watching the conventions, and so it’s more convenient to watch those events and have food delivered to your home than to go out to a restaurant.”
But it’s not just pizza, he said.
“Any kind of delivery food is going to be popular in this kind of environment,” O’Cull concluded.
It’s hard however to directly connect the election to an uptick in delivery.
According to Bruce Grindy, vice president and chief economist at the National Restaurant Foundation, fluctuations between the order-in and delivery industries are normal.
“The back and forth between casual dining and quick-service segments happens both in election and non-election years,” he told ABC News.
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Spanning 30 chapters, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a behemoth of a government document, but its length and complexity are matched only by the impact it could have on the global economy -- and the controversy it has created.
Championed by President Obama, it was one of the few White House initiatives that received bipartisan support.
Donald Trump staunchly opposes it and denounced the trade agreement at last week's Republican National Convention.
Hillary Clinton said in October that she opposed what she has “learned about it” -- after she once said it “sets the gold standard in trade agreements."
Clinton’s somewhat ambiguous position on the deal has been derided by her opponents, many of whom seized on comments made by her friend Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe who said that she would come around to support it if elected president.
The Clinton campaign quickly sought to downplay the governor’s remarks.
But with the trade deal continuing to play a key role in the election, many people are asking: what exactly is the TTP?
At its most basic, the TPP is a proposed trade agreement aimed at promoting investment and trade links between 12 countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
The TPP club includes heavy hitters like the United States, Mexico, Japan and Australia, as well as Vietnam, Brunei and Peru. Notably absent from the group: China.
While the agreement is wide-ranging, it would lower or eliminate many tariffs on trade, introduce new labor standards and encourage environmental responsibility, among other objectives.
An agreement on the deal was reached in early October, after more than five years of talks. It is now awaiting congressional approval.
How is TPP different from other trade deals?
TPP joins an alphabet soup of acronyms representing various trade deals.
Many people confuse it with the “TPA," which is short for Trade Promotion Authority. TPA is the authority granted by Congress to allow U.S. presidents to negotiate trade agreements. Congressional members can vote up or down on these deals but cannot offer amendments.
TPP should also not be confused with “TTIP” -- the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership -- which involves a different ocean, the Atlantic. That agreement, which is currently being negotiated, is between the U.S. and the European Union and has similar trade objectives to the TPA.
What are the benefits of TPP?
The lower tariffs (taxes on goods that are traded internationally) could have a host of economic benefits for both consumers and producers, experts say.
“The benefit is going to a combination of access to a wider variety of better quality goods and services, it’s also going to be providing employment opportunities -- it’s going to create more export-orientated businesses, more jobs,” Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told ABC News.
In other words, Meltzer says, consumers will find cheaper-priced goods. It also means that new business opportunities could be created by opening markets in Asia to American-made goods, which in turn, he says, would create jobs.
Additionally, Meltzer says, “The data clearly shows that these export-orientated businesses pay high wages.”
But don’t expect things to change dramatically, he says. The effects could be somewhat muted, since the U.S. is already very open to trade.
The trade agreement also includes provisions that could advance American values abroad -- especially as it pertains to labor and environmental rights.
In November, Obama called it "the highest standard and most progressive trade deal ever concluded.”
“It includes strong protections for workers, prohibitions against child labor and forced labor,” he noted. “It has provisions to protect the environment, to help stop wildlife trafficking, to protect our oceans.”
Why do critics deride it?
Opposition to the TPP generally falls into two categories -- those who think that free trade agreements and globalization generally harm American workers, and those who think the agreement doesn’t go far enough.
Trump has been a fervent critic of the agreement, underscoring his opposition late last month at a rally in Ohio.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster, done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country. Just a continuing rape of our country," he said.
On the opposite end of the general ideological divide lies Sen. Bernie Sanders, who also believes the TPP is a threat to U.S. interests. He repeatedly spoke out against it during his presidential run.
“Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a 'free trade' agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system," according to a statement on the senator's website.
But for others, the deal doesn't go far enough.
For Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, it's not worth the effort, given the expected gain.
“It’s a wet firecracker you ignite and nothing is going to happen," he told ABC News.
For Scissors, the agreement doesn't do enough to boost services industries, which make up the largest part of the U.S. economy.
“The number one thing from [the perspective of] the U.S. as a whole is to open up services and we didn't do that,” he lamented.
How does it affect America's relationship with China?
In many ways, the deal reflects Obama’s ambition to increase U.S. influence in Asia. It also serves as a check on China’s growing economic influence in the region.
“When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy,” Obama said in a statement in October. “We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.”
For the week ending July 23, the number of people filing for benefits jumped from an revised level of 252,000 the previous week to 266,000, marking the 73rd consecutive week initial jobless claims came in below 300,000. It’s the longest streak since 1973, the Labor Department says.
The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.
The four-week moving average, however, decreased by 1,000 to 256,500.
ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) -- As a dancer as well as a singer and actress, Jennifer Lopez is focused on her feet -- and what she's wearing on them. That's why she's teamed with designer Guiseppe Zanotti to create a capsule shoe collection called Giuseppe for Jennifer Lopez.
Women's Wear Daily reports that the collection will debut at the Footwear Fashion Association of New York's Shoe Expo from Aug. 2 to 4 and then launch in January in stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The shoes range in price from $795 to $1,995 a pair. There are also a couple of handbags available to match.
The shoe collection is just one more piece in Lopez's empire, which includes a fashion line for Kohl's, a fragrance collection for Coty and a jewelry collection for Endless.
Lopez tells WWD, “I’m very proud of the businesses I’ve built. They’ve allowed me to bring really great product at an accessible price point. But I hadn’t done a high-end project yet and this seemed like the right time, medium and designer. I’ve always been passionate about shoes. Sometimes I even choose an outfit around my shoes.”
She adds, "Giuseppe is a designer I’m very loyal to because of his beautiful silhouettes and craftsmanship. It’s impossible not to feel like a more confident, sexier version of yourself when you’re wearing a pair of Zanottis. The shoes are so in line with my personal style, it felt easy and natural.”
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Alexandra Wilkis Wilson knows how to build a business.
In 2007, she helped launch Gilt Groupe, a members-only retail site that offers huge discounts on luxury brands. Six months ago, the company was bought for $250 million by the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson's Bay Company.
Now, she’s turned her attention to Glamsquad, investing her own money and time along with co-founders Jason Perri and Victoria Eisner.
“I knew that it was a matter of time for me to move on, because I really love the early stage building of a business more than the tweaking of a big company environment,” Wilson told ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis.
Glamsquad users can order at-home hair and makeup services directly from the app, starting at $50. Wilson remains as a senior advisor to Gilt, but focuses her day-to-day efforts on building the mobile company that has been called the “Uber of beauty services.”
In a recent interview on "Real Biz" with Rebecca Jarvis, Wilson doled out some invaluable advice to hopeful entrepreneurs:
1. How to find the right mentor
Know the difference between mentors and role models. Just admiring someone, Wilson explains, doesn’t mean they will be on the lookout, offer support and be trustworthy with big career questions.
“Earlier in my career, I mistakenly had the thought that my mentors should all be women," Wilson said, "and they should all be women that I want to become in the future.”
“Going to people who you love isn’t a bad place to start," she continued. "And then going to individuals who you’ve met throughout your career who maybe really understand what you’re like in a professional context is important.”
Wilson said it’s a good idea to have multiple mentors you can turn to under different scenarios. One of Wilson’s go-to mentors? Mindy Grossman, the CEO of HSN.
2. How to build a brand
“Creating a brand in a very short period of time is critical, it’s not optional,” Wilson told Jarvis. “What is your mission, what is your vision, what is your company culture and what are elements you want to keep forever?”
Wilson added that it doesn’t have to limit a company’s specific future goals.
“We don’t use the word ‘women’ in our vision, because we want to leave it open to the possibility of servicing men in the future,” she explains.
3. How to stay focused
It’s great to have a vision -- a BIG vision -- when starting a company. But prioritize quality over quantity in the beginning, so the customer base learns to trust the brand.
“Clients will say what about brows, what about spray tanning, what about facials?” Wilson says. “For now, we’re going to focus on our three core services and maybe in the future, we’ll focus and expand in other ways.”
Choose a few near-term goals and focus on them. If something doesn’t meet that end, it can wait. AKA, don’t spread the company too thin.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday afternoon that it was going to take the cautious step and leave interest rates unchanged for the time being, it also said that “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.”
So what concerns might the Fed have? And why are they being so cautious?
According to Barclay’s Chief U.S. Economist, Michael Gapen, it goes back to the exceptional nature of the recent Great Recession.
“There are recessions and then there are recessions,” he told ABC News, noting that the recession and financial crisis of the late 2000s was much more intense than typical, cyclical recessions.
Gapen said, “The Fed believes that the economy will need more monetary support than it normally would, which means that interest rate rises start later, proceed slower and end at a lower level.”
And while many parts of the economy have bounced back, Gapen said that Federal Reserve officials will be paying special attention to the labor market.
“I really think right now it’s about labor markets, so employment growth still has to be fairly solid,” he said. “Labor markets are the most clear, consistent signal about expansions and contractions more than any other variable,” when it comes to measuring the health of an economy.
So what could make the Federal Reserve feel confident enough to raise rates?
The answer, experts say, is a higher inflation rate.
“If labor markets keep improving, eventually you would get some wage growth and therefore it would support inflation,” Gapen said.
And since the Federal Reserve is charged with controlling inflation, any significant increase in that could spur them to also increase interest rates.
Robert Johnson, Director of Economic Analysis at Morningstar, told ABC News that while overall inflation sits at about 1 percent right now, certain segments are much higher -- most notably, core inflation (which excludes food and energy) is about 2 percent. Johnson predicted that overall inflation could also rise to 2 percent by December.
But the Fed will be cautious to act because changes in the interest rate have effects from Wall Street to Main Street.
One notable way that the rate affects everyday life is its influence on mortgage rates.
The housing market has been acting as a “key driver of the recovery” from the recession, Johnson said, and it “has been exceptionally sensitive to mortgage rates over the past few years.”
“Even the small hike in December slowed housing sales in January and February,” he said. “Not until the Fed put off another rate hike this spring, causing mortgage rates to fall again, did the housing market start acting better.”
Another consideration is the interest rates’ potential affect on the dollar’s value and foreign exports. If the U.S. raises rates, while other countries are slashing theirs, the dollar could become very strong, which would in turn harm U.S. exports.
So, while the Fed appears to be taking a cautious approach in leaving interest rates unchanged, Johnson said they are “playing with fire.”
“If some geo-political event were to send oil soaring or we had another crop failure, inflation could get out of hand very quickly,” he said. “With more retiring baby boomers, low unemployment rates and potential labor shortages pushing wages higher, the underlying inflation rate is moving higher and may prove difficult to control.”
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The world’s largest museum is looking for scholars who know their beer.
From America’s earliest days, beer has had a place in cultural history. Now, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History wants to make sure that history is well documented through a new position: official beer historian.
It’s a three-year position, funded by the Brewers Association and equipped with a $64,000 salary plus benefits, according to the job posting, which also notes a specific desire for those involved in the trendy industry of craft breweries.
But make no mistake. The Smithsonian is not looking for just any beer drinker -- applicants are encouraged to come prepared with an “advanced degree” in American business, brewing, food or history, and must have “proven experience in scholarly research, organizing and conducting oral history interviews, writing for both scholarly and general audiences, and knowledge of material culture and archival materials,” according to the job posting.
“This is not just what’s in the glass, but innovations in the industry, economic history, social and cultural history…. There are a lot of strands that come together to make this part of the larger narrative of American history,” said Smithsonian curator Paula Johnson.
The new position will help fill in some important details in the Smithsonian’s current exhibit, the Food History Project, which chronicles big changes in what Americans eat and drink, said Johnson. It will also explain the recent jump in popularity of breweries in America.
Recent data shows that 2015 saw more than 4,200 total breweries operating in the U.S., the most at any time in American history, according to the Brewers Association. Craft breweries in the United States more than doubled from 2009 to 2015. Microbreweries alone saw a 20 percent increase from 2014 to 2015, statistics show.
That’s one brewery for every three McDonald’s, according to chief economist at the Brewers Association, Bart Watson, and one brewery for every 3.7 Starbucks.
“In order to see a trend, you have to see the deep history. [The new position] will attend to both. You always want to understand, 'How did we get to 4,200 small breweries here in 2016 from just a few 30 years ago?' There’s an economic aspect and a community aspect to this story,” Johnson said.
Johnson and her team are excited for the exhibition on America’s beer history, and while Johnson herself prefers a glass of wine to a pint of beer, she said there are some “fantastic folks here at the museum who are very involved in the local [brewery] scene.”
They foresee some exciting brewery programs in the future -- two a year for the next three years of the position, to be exact.
“We do a series of after-hours programs here and we really are interested in getting young folks involved in history and in the museum,” said Johnson. The first event will be in October, following the new hire of their scholar in all things beer.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Following Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones’ recent harassment on Twitter, the company's CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that things need to change.
“No one deserves to be the target of abuse on Twitter,” he said on a conference call with investors Tuesday. “We haven’t been good enough at ensuring that’s the case, and we need to do better.”
But Dorsey did acknowledge the delicate balance between controlling activity and safeguarding users’ right to speak freely.
“We are not, and never will be, a platform that shows people only part of what’s happening,” he said, adding, “Abuse is not civil discourse.”
Jones, 48, faced a series of racist and offensive tweets last week, causing her to temporarily leave the social media site. The comedienne condemned Twitter for not doing more to protect its users against this type of hateful activity and only returned to Twitter after Dorsey intervened.
"We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter. We agree," Twitter said in a statement immediately following the controversy. "We are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to better allow us to identify and take faster action on abuse as it’s happening and prevent repeat offenders.”
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two top Senate Democrats called Tuesday for the U.S. Senate to terminate its contract with the company that runs the dining services there after a Department of Labor investigation found that the company avoided paying employees more than $1 million that they deserved.
“Let’s call it what it is -- stealing,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who was joined by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, said in a statement.
Their comments come after the DOL announced it found Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor, Personnel Plus, owed 674 workers $1,008,302 in back taxes that it avoided paying by improperly classifying workers in order to pay them for lower-paying jobs than they actually performed, and requiring employees to work before their scheduled starting times without compensation.
“The actions taken by Restaurant Associates are despicable and their contract should be terminated," Reid said. "The Senate must refuse to do business with any unscrupulous vendors who flout the law and put profits above the rights and economic security of their employees. We should take steps immediately to audit this company’s contracts throughout the federal government to ensure that this isn’t happening anywhere else."
The agency also found that Restaurant Associates failed to pay for their employees’ required benefits, and said it is reviewing its findings to determine whether it will seek to prevent the companies from obtaining contracts with the federal government in the future.
“Enforcement of the prevailing wage laws levels the playing field for all contractors and protects the wages of hard-working employees,” said Mark Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Northeast. “These contractors’ actions put vulnerable, low-wage workers and their families in jeopardy.”
The Senate Rules Committee is in charge of negotiating contracts with the employers.
Restaurant Associates did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Kim Kardashian West may be a master at leveraging social media and nurturing her own enduring brand, but news that she is a keynote speaker at next month's BlogHer conference was met with both cheers and jeers from fellow bloggers.
Kardashian West is scheduled to speak Aug. 5 at BlogHer, considered the year's biggest conference for women bloggers. The annual conference is expected to draw some 5,000 bloggers to this year's site, Los Angeles.
For conference organizers, the choice announced last week seemed obvious.
"Kardashian West is one of the most influential women on social media in the world. She has parlayed her influence into a huge media, commerce and mobile app empire, including making tens of millions on her app alone. And it’s an empire with women in the driver’s seat," Elisa Camahort Page, a co-founder of BlogHer told ABC News in a statement. "Moreover, both her huge fan/customer base and her critics are largely women. So she’s completely relevant for what is, after all, a women’s social media conference."
But, the selection had many bloggers scratching their heads and more.
"I get on Facebook and all of a sudden I kept seeing commentary about Kim Kardashian and it was all negative," New Jersey-based writer Kim Bongiorno, author of the blog "Let Me Start By Saying,” told ABC News. "There were people trash-talking BlogHer, saying, 'Now I'm glad I'm not going,'...just really talking negative about the decision and Kim Kardashian as a person."
Some of the negativity Bongiorno even had a name for: "slut shaming."
Chicago-based writer Chrissy Woj, who blogs at Quirky Chrissy, was among those who initially had a negative reaction to the announcement.
"I don't look to her as a role model and I think that's where my initial visceral reaction was," she told ABC News. "I don't watch reality TV. All I see is her making the headlines and her husband making headlines. Initially, I was not sure what was going on with their (BlogHer's) thought process."
Meanwhile, Bongiorno, who doesn't exactly count herself as a fan of the reality star, figured the conference organizers had good reasons for picking Kardashian West.
Tired of hearing all the trash-talking, she wrote a Facebook post that drew hundreds of likes and comments.
"The people talking trash were only hurting themselves," she said about her initial reaction. "Given the status of what going on in the world, this us vs. them, there are a lot of people refusing to hear each other." What surprised Bongiorno is that the blogger community couldn't see that they were doing the same thing.
"Why is her voice any less valid than yours?" Bongiorno pointedly asked her Facebook followers.
In her lengthy post, she pointed out that conference attendees had a similar reaction to last year's keynote speaker, Gwyneth Paltrow.
"I got some really great nuggets from her talk," Bongiorno recalled. "A lot of naysayers had the same experience. A lot of people came out of that saying she wasn't as bad as I thought she was."
Bongiorno believes attendees could have the same experience with Kardashian West, who she thinks is "way more than the nude pictures."
Not only is her brand and business "very woman-centric" but Bongiorno is impressed by how she has managed to maintain success over the years despite being such a polarizing figure.
After reading Bongiorno's post, Woj began to feel differently about wanting to hear Kardashian speak. And although she had already planned not to attend the conference, she said, "I'm a little disappointed that I won't be there to hear what she has to say."
For the conference organizers, the kind of discussion generated by their announcement was what they were hoping for.
"Any time someone engenders such strong reaction from women I’m going to want the women in our community to hear from such a figure directly," Camahort Page said in her statement, "and in a more intimate, in-real-time setting."
As for Kardashian herself, she's saving her remarks for when she takes the podium in a couple weeks. She declined ABC News' request for comment.