May 30, 2014 ()
Someone in Toronto Is Giving Away Money
Last week an anonymous and generous person began stuffing envelopes with cash and hiding them around San Francisco, sending followers of the @hiddencash twitter account on a scavenger hunt around the city.
It got quite a bit of media attention north of the border, from the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, CTV and others, so it was really only a matter of time before locals were inspired to do the same in Hog Town. Later that day the twitter handle @hiddencashTO was registered, and the hunt was on.
Unlike the San Francisco-based account, however, which has attracted more than 350,000 followers in a matter of days, the anonymous user in Downtown Toronto is only sitting at about 250. For starving artists like myself, that just meant less competition.
Unlike my fellow cash-hungry Torontonians, however, I thought perhaps I might be able to earn some real dough on this adventure by reaching out to the anonymous twitter user, interviewing them, and pitching the story to some Toronto-based publication. It was at that point that I engaged in a twitter interview (twinterview?), while simultaneously calling around some of the publications I write for.
What I was surprised to find is that unlike the frenzy over the cash hunt in San Fran, the media is a bit more skeptical of this local hero. The National Post rejected the story outright, and the Toronto Star is convinced the anonymous user is really Russell Oliver in disguise, trying to drum up some publicity for his cash-for-gold business.
The anonymous Twitter user has given me some pretty solid proof that he’s not the city’s infamous “Cash Man,” but still the Star isn’t convinced. Unfortunately while I’ve been trying to hustle this story all afternoon twitter user Andrew Nicolucci has found today’s hundred dollar bounty at St. Lawrence Market, but perhaps a cash hunt might have to be worked into my weekend plans. In the mean time, here’s some of my conversation with the anonymous @hiddencashTO user thus far:
Me: can you tell me why you’re doing this?
@hiddencashTO: Sure! I was inspired by the original @hiddencash. I thought it was an interesting way to put a smile on people’s face. to think about how much money I spend on material things to make myself happy and how much MORE happiness you can foster by sharing it instead.
Me: I hate to sound like a cynic but those are some pretty expensive smiles. Why not hold the door open for someone instead of tossing out $$?
@hiddencashTO: I do that too….it isn’t an OR situation, it’s an AND situation. i like the idea that a couple hundred bucks can not only change someones day, but in turn, maybe make them think about paying it forward too
Me: What do you put in the note that goes along with the cash? Do you encourage people to pay it forward?
@hiddencashTO: The envelope says: This is your LUCKY DAY! Inside this envelope you will find the happiness only a wad of cash can provide.Share a picture on twitter and spread the love to others who may need it!
Me: I just gave the Toronto Star a quick call… they seem to be convinced this is a promotional stunt for Russell Oliver, “the Cash Man…”
@hiddencashTO: OOHHHH YEAHHHH!!! (NOOO) hahaha
Me: Seriously, they don’t believe someone would throw around free cash and are convinced its a publicity stunt. Any way you can prove otherwise?
@hiddencashTO: he DMd me, had no interest, would rather remain anonymous, its not a promotional stunt, which is what i felt the cashman was doing
Me: Can you send me a screenshot of that conversation?
(the screen grab from Oliver Jewellery, dated 23 hours prior, says, “Hey Hidden Cash TO, we are interested in taking this adventure on with you! We have TONS of cash that we want to share with Toronto”)
Me: So how many more drops are you planning on doing? Will this be a regular thing?
@hiddencashTO: Everyday till its not fun anymore! you can’t imagine how much fun this is for me. It’s exhilarating. i feel like phil keoghan in this ish
@hiddencashTO: worth every penny! look at that smile!
(that’s today’s scavenger hunt winner Andrew Nicolucci)
Me: Must feel good! Are you keeping it $100 each time or will it increase over time?
@hiddencashTO: haven’t really made up my mind yet, we’ll see.
Me: The San Fran-based account now has something like 350k followers. Are you surprised this isn’t catching on fasted here in TO?
@hiddencashTO: nahh, its only day 2! and there is nothing that spreads faster than kindness!!
Me: Very cool. Well, certainly hope I get to send you a smiling pic with one of your notes soon. Any other message for the people of TO?
@hiddencashTO: Pay it forward. #HiddenCashTO