Did Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak win a free magazine subscription for completing a crossword?

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On Saturday afternoon, I received the June issue of Harper's, a wood-pulp-based magazine to which I subscribe (luxurious, I know).

Though I don't do the cryptic crossword that appears in the back of the magazine each month, I happened to flip open to the page it's on, and something caught my eye.

Harper's runs a contest where those who correctly complete their crossword each month are entered to win a year-long subscription to the magazine. Here was the winner this month (emphasis mine):

The winner of the April puzzle, "Stereo Components," is Steve Wozniak, Encinitas, Calif."


I'm a tech reporter, so I thought it might be Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (also know as Woz)! After all, he lives in California, and spent some time as Chief Scientist for a company that was based in Encinitas. But I was under the impression he lived in the Bay Area, and Encinitas is much farther south, almost near San Diego. It was one of those rare mysteries in the modern age that could not be solved quickly and decisively simply by Googling.

But then I did something bad.

Reader, I tweeted.

Did *that* Steve Wozniak just win a free subscription to Harper's? pic.twitter.com/27x9UmPPFN

— Ethan Chiel (@ethanchiel) May 14, 2016

(The mattress is bare because I was doing laundry, ok?!)

In my defense, I did phrase it as a question (and added a disclaimer)! I wasn't sure! Nonetheless, the tweet got a little attention. Other, more seasoned journalists even speculated that it probably was that Steve Wozniak, who does love games, tricks, and puzzles:

The tweet even caught the attention of another (New York-dwelling) Steve Wozniak:


As this week crawled on, I feeling a low-level anxiety. What if I had the wrong Woz(niak)? According to the research tool Nexis, there may be 25 Stephen Wozniaks in California alone. I emailed the address on the Apple Wozniak's website, but his team has yet to get back to me. [Update: They got back to me, simply saying "Mr. Wozniak does not live in Encinitas, CA."]


Fortunately, there's more than one way to solve this mystery. After doing a little research, I determined there was at least one non-Woz Steve Wozniak in Encinitas, I found his number, called it, and a man picked up.

I am sorry, but also glad, to report that the Steve Wozniak who won a Harper's subscription is not Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, but a retiree living in Encinitas.


While Apple's Wozniak winning would've been fun, another less-wealthy Wozniak taking the prize seems to me more just. And since he'd yet to hear from the magazine, I got to inform Steve Wozniak he'd won the contest; he was excited by the news.

In his retirement, Wozniak says he spends a great deal of time on the Harper's cryptic crossword and "other crosswords I've had to defer for years."


As for sharing a name with the co-founder of Apple, I asked if it led to confusion a lot, especially living in the same (albeit large) state.

"Oh gosh. Oh gosh, yes," he said, though it hasn't caused any trouble.

One last thing you should know about him: he seems incredibly chill.

"I'm about [Apple co-founder Wozniak]'s age and I do nothing. Actually I do what I want. My week consists of five Saturdays and two Sundays."



Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at ethan.chiel@fusion.net

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