We have our first winner in the Valleywag Apple Tablet Scavenger Hunt! The most concrete proof of the messiah machine's existence so far landed in our inbox last night.

Congratulations, Michael Spillner of the prestigious Menlo Park law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe! Your "Letter from Apple" demanding that we stop the Scavenger Hunt — specifically the line "Apple has maintained the types of information and things you are soliciting ... in strict confidence" — is the most concrete evidence (from Apple itself, no less!) yet that there may indeed be a tablet in the works.

Granted, it's no photo of Steve Jobs holding his heavenly device himself (prize: $50,000), but we do feel like it merits some kind of reward. So, Michael, we're sending off a gift basket to you that includes:

  • A DVD of Legally Blonde 2
  • A $25 Zune Marketplace giftcard
  • And a fabulous set of steak knives!

The main reason we launched our scavenger hunt in the first place was that for all the talk and talk and talk about the impending Apple Tablet, there has not been one iota of proof that the thing actually exists. The closest thing we know of as a confirmation from Apple was last week's Wall Street Journal reporting that Apple planned to unveil a "multimedia tablet device" sometime this month and then start selling them in March. But even this was attributed to "people briefed by the company." While there was some speculation that Apple itself had leaked the story, that was only speculation — like every other word and photo and video that's been created about the so-called "iSlate."

Since we started offering prizes for proof the thing exists, lots of people have been sending in those fakes. But perhaps the most interesting submission was this:

I am writing to inform you that I have specific knowledge regarding the Apple tablet. I regret to inform you that there is no Apple tablet. These many months of endless tablet rumors have been the biggest hoax in tech history. Apple knows this, I know this, and soon the public will know this. Again, there is no Apple Tablet....zero....non-existent.

But it's not just him. Jason Snell, the editorial director of the company that publishes MacWorld magazine, has been trying to convince Twitter that there is no Apple Tablet, writing last month, "It's imaginary until it exists (or until there's solid evidence) — right now it's whatever you want it to be."

Exactly. If you've found proof that the Apple Tablet exists and can share it with us, we're still offering prizes. Apple, of course, has plenty of good lawyers like Michael Spillner, so we reiterate our advice "to stay within the bounds of the law." And also: use anonymous email addresses! We can't tell Apple who you are if we don't know who you are. Send any entries my way: gabriel@gawker.com.

Here's the letter we received from Apple. You can click to enlarge.

Top image via commenter Double Banger's unsuccessful entry.