Scarcity is a well known, and thanks to Social Scientists, proven, characteristic of influence. The scarcer something is, the more people will desire it. I always find it intriguing that in taste tests people actually find the scarcer choice tastier. They don’t just want the food more, or will pay more for it, but the food actually, subjectively, tastes better.
When you derive that scarcity through competition, you just ratchet up the desire. It seems we’re wired for survival, keenly sensitive to scarce resources. Thsi is the very principle that auctions use to drive people to spend way more on something than could otherwise be charged (this is also why I’ll never buy a house on auction).
For the craziest contests though, and the only ones held in breakout sessions at TechEd, there’s only one session….