USA

Handing out cash in Times Square

A mystery man was handing out cash to anyone willing to tell him why they needed it on Wednesday. "Bailout Bill" installed himself in Times Square, New York, creating trailing queues of cash-strapped Americans. Read more...

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A mystery man was handing out cash to anyone willing to tell him why they needed it on Wednesday. "Bailout Bill" installed himself in Times Square, New York, creating trailing queues of cash-strapped Americans.

If you're ready to queue up for a couple of hours and tell a stranger why you want him to give you money, then Bailout Bill will reward you with at least $50 (€40). The reason behind the mysterious initiative is a little disappointing - it's part of a publicity campaign for a new classified advertising website, BailoutBooth.com. Nonetheless, it's attracting a lot of attention. As America's economy reaches its most dire lows and increasing numbers of people find themselves jobless, giving away free money is probably the most popular stunt you can pull. And nobody seems averse to sharing their desperate pleas. The online appeals are already hundreds deep, and include a girl who "bumped my car into a wall and I need to pay for what is broke", somebody who is simply "broak [sic] need money", and another who is "eating samples [giveaways] from Costco daily". After New York, next stop Washington DC for Bailout Bill, who's planning to give away $500,000 in total. Not a bad price for an advertising campaign in the US, where 30 seconds airtime at the Superbowl can cost you $3 million...

Photos posted on Flickr by "Planet Money".

The queue in Times Square.

A man who received money is interviewed by the press.

He waited in line for an hour and a half to get $100.