Tuesday, April 07, 2020

In 1990, Spy Magazine Secretly Mailed $0.13 Checks To Thirteen Very Wealthy People. Only Two People Cashed Them: Saudi Arms Dealer Adnan Khashoggi And Donald Trump.

David Matthews, Splinter, July 23, 2015:
Donald Trump! Everyone is talking about Trump ... He's running for President right now and claims to be worth a lot of money. Did you know he once cashed a check for 13 cents that a magazine sent him as an experiment to see if he'd cash it? Because that happened once!

Published between 1986 and 1998, Spy magazine was the hip, satirical, bomb-throwing magazine du jour, and in 1990 the writers had a great idea for a prank: What would happen if you sent checks for small amounts to celebrities and saw who cashed them, putting to test the theory that every man (and woman) has a price? In their words:
We could however, send them checks for minuscule sums of money—sums so small they couldn't fund as much as a minute of the recipients' existence—and see who would bother to bank these teensy amounts of money.
Spy thought "some subterfuge" would be necessary—it'd be suspicious to get a check from the magazine that lampooned so many of the intended recipients. This was specifically true for Trump, who Spy once famously referred to as a "short-fingered vulgarian."

So, they created a fully funded and incorporated company called National Refund Clearinghouse, which allowed them to open a checking account. Then they drafted a letter explaining that the check was a refund for a small overcharge that had occurred in 1988—what the celebrities had been overcharged for was never mentioned. They sent the checks out (initially for $1.11) to 58 well-known people like Cher, Henry Kissinger, and, of course, Donald Trump. Of the 58, 26 cashed the checks—Donald included.

The magazine drafted a followup letter and checks for $0.64 to those 26 people to see who would take more free money. Thirteen—including Donald Trump—deposited the checks worth two quarters, a dime, and four pennies into their banks.

Then they went for one last score: in honor of those 13 people, 13 more checks for $0.13. Two people cashed them: a Saudi arms dealer named Adnan Khashoggi, and Donald Trump.



No comments: