Don't mock a man and his banana

Posted Online: May 01, 2013, 11:00 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Kent Bush
You guys are so predictable.

Everyone wants to make fun of some poor New Hampshire man because he "lost" his life savings playing a carnival game and all he got for it was a 4-foot-long banana with Rastafarian dreadlocks.

How can you say he "lost" his life savings? He just "invested" the money in a stuffed banana with dreadlocks and a Jamaican hat. It isn't like he put his money in the stock market and lost it all

I can't wait to see what Dave Ramsey says about this one.

After trying to win a $100 Xbox Kinect and losing about $300, he left the carnival, gathered up his life savings of $2,600, and returned to the Tubs of Fun booth.

Of course, he could have taken $100 to a local Walmart and bought the game.

But what fun is that? He wanted to win!

After he lost everything in some strange display of addictive personality disorder, the 30-year-old man --- yes, he is 30 -- was pitied by the man running the game. The carny gave him back $600 and a huge banana with dreadlocks as a consolation prize.

Of course, this man has proven he doesn't know when to hold them and when to fold them. He isn't quite sure why he lost about 500 times in a row, but he knows it wasn't his fault.

He told Time magazine -- which may be considering him for Man of the Year -- "You just get caught up in the whole 'I've got to win my money back'" he said to a reporter who had to have trouble keeping a straight face. "It's not possible that it wasn't rigged."

That's where he is wrong.

If you are a 30-year-old who would consider the idea of spending $2,600 on a carnival game, there is in fact a very good possibility that you are horrible at that game and could lose hundreds of times in a row.

When I was in seventh grade, our band went on a trip where we played at a festival near a big carnival. I remember spending $20 on a game where you had to drop 5 gray circles onto a red circle. If you didn't completely cover the circle, you lost. It was like an evil Venn Diagram. There was always a sliver you couldn't cover. I just knew I would get it the next time.

I never did.

I'll never forget the look on my mom's face when I got home that night after having not eaten because I spent the entire $20 -- a lot of money back then -- on that stupid game.

I didn't get any of my money back or a stuffed banana. I was sent home with nothing but a pocket full of shame.

I learned two things that day.

First, don't waste money on games you can't win.

Second, learn to win games you can and become the best in the world at them.

I take my sons to play at arcades and carnivals from time to time. They have learned how to invest a small amount of money and win a lot of prizes. If there is a ball drop machine, I will hit the jackpot in less than four tries. I will also set the high score on any "hoop shoot" machine in the building just to make my sons believe that I am an incredible basketball player. At ages 9 and 5, that kind of display still works wonders.

The man and his banana were right. You can get caught up in trying to win your money back. That is the principle that Las Vegas and all of these roadside casinos are built on.

But usually the people at Gambling Anonymous are talking about sports wagers and slot machines, not Tubs of Fun. That's like the guy at the maximum-security prison who is in for jaywalking.

It's easy to laugh at this guy for losing $2,600. It is even easier when you think about him dragging that banana home.

But how many of us have fallen for obvious fraud and let it go on far too long. Maybe we weren't trying to win a video game, but we have all been gullible.

Hopefully, the next time those warning bells go off, you will think of this man and his banana and walk away before your losses mount.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)