What if some guys handed you $100,000, on the condition that they get to film what happens to you next? And what if you were living under a bridge at the time?
The crew of the documentary Reversal of Fortune planted a suitcase filled with 100 grand for homeless man Ted Rodrigue to find, and followed him around with a camera to document the results. Initially, Ted did exactly what the rest of us would do if someone gave us $100,000. He bought a new bicycle, picked up Mike from down at the local recycling plant and hit the fucking amusement park.
This may also have involved corn dogs.
Oh, he also found a place to live, got back in touch with his family and landed a girlfriend. We'd probably do that stuff too, but after the amusement park.
The Harsh Reality
As we have previously mentioned, people who have been poor for years get pretty good at it. You make minimum wage, you live like you make minimum wage. If you're homeless, you adjust to life on the street.
But give a homeless guy a shit ton of money, and he doesn't continue to live like a homeless guy. But he doesn't live like a guy with $100,000, either. He tries to live like a millionaire, because he has no idea what living on 100 grand looks like.
Maybe consider other investments.
People who are used to having that much money don't go buying cars for their friends and new girlfriends nor do they spend all of their free time getting shitfaced at local bars. But that's exactly what Ted did. And they tend to hold down jobs, which Ted steadfastly refused to do despite being advised to find one by friends, family, a homeless advocate and a financial planner. In Ted's words, he was "set for life."
After buying himself a $35,000 truck, buying additional cars for his new girlfriend and Mike from the recycling plant (you probably thought we made that guy up) and spending close to $10,000 per week at the bar, Ted had less than $5,000 left after just six months.
Of course that was just one homeless guy. You'd obviously handle that opportunity more responsibly, right? Nope, probably not. It turns out even well adjusted, middle class lotto winners go through the exact same stuff before ultimately losing everything and winding up worse off than before.
Still, they got a great documentary out of it. And we assume Ted got to keep that sweet bicycle. The rest of us however learned the valuable lesson that giving us a sudden chunk of wealth is a bit like giving a dog a helicopter. It's awesome for a few minutes, then everything goes to hell.
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