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Down to the Wire: How Memes Helped Take the 2022 EV Cup

The 2022 edition of the EV Cup has come to a close in dramatic fashion. The winning Empowered Ventures (EV) company used their creative juices in the new ESOP Meme portion of the friendly competition to secure the sparkly silver trophy. The EV Cup, a National Employee Ownership Month championship focused on supporting the communities where Empowered Ventures companies call home, remains with TVF Inc. in part due to its meme mastery that wowed an independent panel of judges.

The meme competition was a unique way to riff on the benefits of being an ESOP and help open the rest of the world to what it means to be an employee-owner. The non-biased panel of judges – comprised of executive leaders from Certified EO – had difficult decisions to make in narrowing down the winners. With more than 60 entries, the panel decided on 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, and honorable mention in each of three categories. The winners of each category would receive bonus points toward their company’s EV Cup totals.

Certified EO took their impartiality seriously by selecting the winners without names of entries or context. After the competition, they were so impressed with what the entrants came up with, Certified EO co-founder and CEO Thomas Dudley asked to share the competition’s concept and memes with their members. “This is one of the most creative ideas we’ve seen in a while, and I think people would enjoy seeing it as much as we have.”

The memes were not the whole story, however, as the giving spirit drove high participation in a food drive benefiting local communities. For this portion of the competition, Firstar Precision Corp. led the way with just under 110 items-per-employee, followed by Paramount Plastics at nearly 101 items-per-employee, and TVF with a shade under 89 items-per-employee. Paramount Plastics impressed by being the only team with 100% participation.

In all, the three EV companies contributed a total of 16,676 items, which will provide a significant boost to Brunswick Food Pantry in Firstar’s hometown of Brunswick, Ohio; Church Community Services in Paramount’s hometown of Elkhart, Indiana; and Carmel United Methodist in Carmel, Indiana, Lebanon Caring Center in Lebanon, Indiana, and Food Finders in Carson, California where the extends.

TVF won the Educational and Funniest meme categories, adding 50 points to their total, for a grand total of 138.99 points. Firstar’s 25 points added for winning the Most Creative meme category placed it just behind first place with 134.5 points. Firstar, who received 25 bonus points for 100% participation from its employees, earned a total of 125.74 points.

The meme competition honorees include:

Most Creative…

  • 1st Place: Luke Orszag, Firstar
  • 2nd Place: Ryan Lower, TVF
  • 3rd Place: Ryan Lower, TVF
  • Honorable Mention: Cynthia Enriquez, TVF, and Terry Smith, TVF

Most Educational…

  • 1st Place: Kelsey Thompson, TVF
  • 2nd Place: Kelsey Thompson, TVF
  • 3rd Place: Kelsey Thompson, TVF
  • Honorable Mention: Luke Orszag, Firstar (x2)


  • 1st Place: Amber Chesterfield, TVF
  • 2nd Place: Luke Orszag, Firstar
  • 3rd Place: Kelsey Thompson, TVF
  • Honorable Mention: Dan McGowan, TVF

“Congrats to TVF, the 2022 winner of the EV Cup! And, congratulations to Paramount and Firstar for your incredible performance,” said Empowered Ventures Chief of Staff Emily Bopp in a video announcing the results of the competition. “Thank you for making the second-annual EV Cup such an incredible success, serving our communities with food donations, and generating such incredible enthusiasm for employee ownership.”

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