GOOD

People Are Awesome: Mystery Man Gives Strangers Wads of Cash

From Cape Town, South Africa, to Las Vegas, Nevada, he's on a giving spree with a catch. The Lucky ones must spend the money for good.

He roams the globe with a camera and a fat wallet. He's been known to brighten the day of Italian opticians, South African 7-Eleven clerks, and Mumbai cabbies. Wearelucky is the project of a mysterious man who recently came into "more money than he'll ever need," and instead of blowing it on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight has decided to pass it along to strangers. He signs email simply "X" and his generosity comes with a deceptively simple catch: with the money, they have to do something good. They also have to pose for his camera. "I didn't just want to share the money" he says. "I wanted to share the responsibility that came with it. I would take a few photos, ask a few questions and build a gallery of Lucky people and stories." We've collected some of our favorite images above and the mystery man talked with us about "maximizing smiles" and why so many of his lucky people are plucked from bar stools.

GOOD: The site leaves the visitor with a lot of unanswered questions about you. Do you want to remain anonymous? What can you tell us about yourself?


Wearelucky: Yes, I wish to remain anonymous, the project is about the lucky people and the magic that happens when their energy collides with some money. It's not about me. I am tall and shy.

GOOD: Why did you launch Wearelucky and what are its goals?

Wearelucky: I paused one day and reflected on my life, working hard, drinking hard and not seeing enough of the people I love or doing the things I love and I decided to change. I realized I was lucky enough to make choices, I had amassed enough money to choose what to do and so I did.

I wanted to give some money away so I thought hard about how to make the most impact, something that would maximise smiles, and spread the money in as many directions as possible. I couldn't decide what was most important: home or abroad, young or old, smart or challenged, fit or sick. So I decided to pass on that responsibility to others in smaller, more manageable chunks.

GOOD: How much money are you planning to give away and what have the amounts been?

Wearelucky: I give money in chunks of about £1,000. In the U.S. I give $1,000—I make it up as I go along. I think the amount needs to be enough to get peoples' attention but not too large to be a burden.

I'm not sure how much I'm going to give away but after 100 people I'll reflect and see if I'm happy with what's happened and what's next.

GOOD: I notice a fair amount of "invitees" seem to be approached in drinking establishments. Do you just enjoy a good drink or is there some underlying logic here?

Wearelucky: I love a booze. And its where I meet people. I think people are more open to others in bars where they might not be elsewhere, good bars have great energy. And I love a booze.

GOOD: Tell us about your first invitee who was a stranger and whether that interaction was challenging for you.

Wearelucky: I was sitting in an internet café in a tiny village deep in the Cognac region, trying to work out how to ask the manageress if she would take part in Wearelucky. As I sat trying to summon the right words, her entire family arrived for a two week holiday. The moment had passed and I was annoyed with myself.

I got up to leave and overheard a girl in cycling gear saying her goodbyes to people in the bar. They wished her good luck. I couldn’t quite work out what she was doing but it sounded interesting and I was desperate to do my first totally random Wearelucky, so I followed her out of the bar and asked what she was up to. My adrenalin was really pumping and I didn’t listen to a word she said in response. I blurted out something about Wearelucky and sprinted to the bank, somehow managing to smoke 2 cigarettes on the way. I ran back, presented her with the cash and asked if I could take her photograph. She looked a little bemused, but pocketed the cash, thanked me and cycled off in the general direction of London. I felt elated.

GOOD: In the age of kickstarter, where everyone can be an intimately involved micro philanthropist, why do you choose to distribute funds in your one stepped removed way?

Wearelucky: I think by involving someone else it creates more smiles, and makes for more positive feelings. Its beautifully inefficient, creating an unnecessary intermediary harnesses their energy and ideas and maximizes the goodness.

All images courtesy of Wearelucky

Slideshows
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less
Health