5 Tiny Dumb Pranks That Had Huge Unexpected Consequences
Everyone loves a good prank. And by "everyone," we mean "mostly the jerks pulling them." Problem is, even seemingly harmless jokes can snowball out of control and end up causing massive damage -- sometimes to the victims, sometimes to the pranksters themselves, and sometimes to random people living in other states. Here are six times when "It's just a prank, bro!" couldn't save people from disastrous consequences.
A Weed Reference Cost Elon Musk $20 Million
Elon Musk is an internet meme who also happens to run a multi-billion-dollar company. Whenever these two worlds intersect, you can hear Tesla investors groaning in unison. Back in 2018, for instance, Musk tweeted that funding had been secured to take Tesla private, and every share would cost ... $420. Like the weed number! Later, Musk explained that he tweeted that because he'd somehow just found out about the "420 = weed" thing, and thought his girlfriend would find it funny. We're assuming Tesla has a whole team of specialists dedicated to making sure Musk never finds out about "69."
Anyway, you know who didn't find the joke funny? Anyone older than 16. And probably his girlfriend. But also the Securities and Exchange Commission, which sued Musk on the grounds of lying to his investors with the announcement. This caused the company's stock to fall 14%. They also wanted to ban him from acting as Tesla's CEO, which would give Musk a lot more free time to get acquainted with marijuana culture. Plus, he could probably score a gig as Joe Rogan's Artie Lange pretty easily.
Musk ended up settling the lawsuit, which involved paying a $20 million fine and stepping down as Tesla chairman (he's still CEO). But hey, at least he learned a lesson and grew as a person.
Cops Found A Wanted Fugitive Because He Had A Joke Printed In The Newspaper
You're probably aware of the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins, which boils down to "Is this racist name racist?" In 2014, a reporter for a Pennsylvania newspaper asked college student Jake Close for his take on the matter. Close replied: "They should keep the same name, but change the mascot to a potato." Get it? Because of "red skin" potatoes? Close felt so proud of "his" joke (which is older than him) that he agreed to have his name and photo printed on the paper's "Your Opinion" section.
A week later he was in jail. That's how politically correct we're getting in this country! People can end up jailed for saying a joke! And, uh, for skipping bail on drug/DUI charges in New York years earlier. He did that too.
Campus police had been looking for Close for two months before an officer finally found him in the newspaper. They promptly handed him to the actual cops, who held him on $25,000 bail as he awaited extradition to New York. It's unclear if he liked the dumb joke so much that he decided the risk was worth it, or if he was simply dumb himself.
Google's "Mic Drop" Gmail Feature Got Users In Trouble
On April 1, 2016, Google announced a new feature for Gmail: "Mic Drop," which decorates your message with a GIF of one of the Minions from Despicable Me dropping a microphone, and prevents others from responding to an email chain. Which seems pointless, because no one wants to talk to people who send Minions memes anyway.
Obviously, it was a joke feature for April Fools' Day, but the consequences were very real. Not only did Google put the Mic Drop button right next to the real "Send" button, but there was no confirmation or warning that the feature would be used. They should've at least made a "You've been punk'd!" card flash up the screen.
Thanks to that, a lot of people ended up using the feature without realizing it. One user claimed he lost a writing job after sending an article to his editor with Mic Drop on, which made it look like he was saying "I'm too good to do revisions." Others accidentally sent Mic Drop'd job applications, automatically disqualifying themselves. One woman sent a prayer request to 50 people with the dreaded Minion in it, instantly earning eternal damnation.
Google removed the feature within hours, probably making a whole lot of people look insane when they tried to demonstrate what happened to their bosses/co-workers/pastors/etc. Perhaps it's no coincidence that this happened less than a year after the company dropped "Don't be evil" from its motto.
Padlocking A Sprinkler Resulted In $48,000 In Damages
There isn't an object on Earth that teenagers can't turn into an instrument of chaos and destruction. They're like evil MacGyvers. Take 14-year-old Carson Dean from British Columbia, Canada, who managed to get his school evacuated with a simple padlock.
In 2012, Dean stole his friend's padlock and started looking for a sufficiently annoying place to put it in their school. His first attempt (the metal bar of a door) was foiled by a lunch supervisor, who probably ended up wishing he'd looked the other way. The boy eventually settled for a sprinkler head on the ceiling of a hallway. A crowd gathered as our criminal genius started jumping to try to reach the sprinkler with the padlock. Court documents immortalize the words of a friend, wise beyond his years:
Finally, Dean managed to reach the sprinkler ... causing it to activate. Which caused other sprinklers to go off. Soon, the entire school was getting a nice intestinal cleansing, and the kids had to be evacuated. The little stunt ended up causing $48,000 in water damages to the school, and eventually to Dean's parents' checkbook.
Justin Bieber Tweeted A Fake Phone Number, Causing Random People To Get Thousands Of Calls
One fateful night in 2012, Justin Bieber decided it would be funny to tweet out "call me right now at ..." followed by a random phone number with the final digit replaced by a question mark. For him, it was only a few seconds of teenage idiocy. For his fans, it meant a few minutes of trying to call ten different numbers for no reason. But for at least two people in Dallas, it was the start of a weeks-long nightmare.
A man named Kent claimed that he received over a thousand phone calls from thirsty Beliebers within the first day. Three weeks later, people were still leaving poetic messages like "Justin Be-Be-Be-Bieber. Love you!" Others were calling from places like India to try to book Bieber for shows. And Kent wasn't alone. 88-year-old Dilcie Fleming said she had to remove the phone from her room due to the neverending avalanche of horny calls. Like, way more than an 88-year-old woman would get under normal circumstances.
Both victims had the same number for decades (in Fleming's case, since 1966), and weren't willing to change just because some pop star's fingers happened to land on his keyboard a certain way. Once the story got some media attention, their demands for Bieber were simple: 1) an apology, 2) cash, 3) plugging Kent's "online project," and 4) concert tickets for Dilcie's great-granddaughter. Ah, the old "No, it's for my great-grandkid" excuse. No word on whether they got any of those things, but at least Bieber deleted that tweet.
For more, check out Why Every Prank Eventually Goes Wrong:
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