“They say money can’t buy happiness. Give me 50 bucks and watch me smile.” – Bobby Heenan

This month in 1995, the conclusion of a very odd saga involving one Patrick Combs, who deposited a promotional check from a piece of junk mail… and actually got the money!

I remember getting mail like this back in the 80s and 90s.

It would have your name on the check and a big sum of money, and then it would say something like all of this could be yours if you win our sweepstakes and buy our magazines or whatever.

Combs got a promotional check for $95,093.35.

He said, at that point in his life, actual money was hard to come by.

So he thought it would be bleakly funny if he went to a cash machine and deposited the junk check.

He was so sure it would be rejected that he didn’t even sign the back of the check.

But after ten days of waiting, the deposit cleared!

According to SFGate.com, the promo check was so close to an actual check that it legally qualified as a real check, even though it said “non-negotiable” on the front.

The bank actually sent the money to Combs’ account, and by the time they realized what had happened, it was legally too late to recall the money.

They tried to get Combs to give it back anyway, at which point Combs started doing interviews on TV and in newspapers to explain his side of the story.

A lot of people loved the story of a little guy sticking it to the banks.

But, all the while, someone was keeping Combs from spending the money: Combs himself.

He asked himself, even if he could legally keep the money, was it ethical for him to do so?

In the end, he decided, nah.

He made a deal: the bank admitted that they had made mistakes in letting the deposit go through, and Combs gave every penny of the money back.

Combs would later tell his story as a motivational speaker, in a book, and in a one-man play, which he called Man 1 Bank 0.

Today is the Day of German Unity, the anniversary of the country’s reunification in 1990.

To encourage people to have more children, Germany passed a law in 1949 that said any family that had a seventh child could let the government know and the German president would automatically be the kid’s godfather.

That’s tens of thousands of godkids!

Playing With Money / How a $95,093.35 junk mail check changed Patrick’s life (SFGate.com)

Unlucky number seven causes headache for German president (Deutsche Welle)

Back our show on Patreon and you may have already won!

Photo by Steve Schroeder via Flickr/Creative Commons