Guy Makes Comedy Videos Asking For $1 Million… And Gets It

Comedian Craig Rowin made a series of videos asking for random rich strangers online to give him $1 million. He made no attempt to justify his need or worthiness for this bequest. He simply and emphatically outlined the rules for giving him the money and went through the various options of individuals and companies who might possibly give him the money. And now, by some insane kinky power of the internet, a millionaire has stepped up and will give him the cash. By all accounts, this is not a joke. It is actually happening.

The millionaire will present the check to Craig in person during his performance at the UCB theater in New York on February 2nd.

What will he do with the cash? As promised in the video, he will give $50,000 to his cameraman/director and $50,000 to his co-writer. Then he, “might go on a trip.”

Skeptical? Sure, who wouldn’t be? A friend of Craig’s ran into him and blogged the following:

At least a couple of mainstream media blogs have suggested that this is all a hoax designed to get people to buy $5 tickets for Rowin’s UCB show. I don’t think so. When I congratulated Rowin this morning, this was his reply to me: “I am still in shock. It’s going to be insane.” I read this, as well as the grin on his face in the “success” video, as genuine disbelief

In any event, if it is a hoax or a marketing stunt, with all the coverage this story is getting it won’t be long before it’s outed.

Success video, featuring a cameo by Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza:

Videos leading up to it in chronological order:

I look forward/cringe at the thought of seeing people try to recreate the stunt and failing.

You can hate him but I think it’s a good story about how even in a recession a strong dose of chutzpah, humor, perseverance, luck, and a good story can get you pretty far.

YouTube Sensation Craig Rowin Gets $1 Million Just Because He Asked [ABC] (Thanks to Jesse!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Daverson says:

    Shit, wish I’d thought of that.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Welcome to lack of foresight town… where regrets are bountiful, and crying is daily.

  2. Red Cat Linux says:

    Hope he witholds his estimated taxes now. Might hurt later.

    • Magspie says:

      If it’s a gift the person giving it to him is responsible for gift taxes and he doesn’t pay income tax on it.

      • Bsamm09 says:


      • pplrppl says:

        And if the giver wants to do it tax free they can give $20,000 a year to each person until congress ups the rate. At worst it’d take 50 years to give a million that way or you could split a million between 50 people in one year tax free.

      • Southern says:

        Read my message below, it’s entirely possible that neither the giver NOR the receiver will have to pay any taxes on this “Gift”. :)

  3. dolemite says:

    I dunno…until he has the money in his bank account, the doesn’t *have* it yet.

  4. deathbecomesme says:

    What sux is hes already given away half the money. After taxes he will probably only get about $250K. 100K of which he has already verbally agreed to give to two others. That leaves him with 150K.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      I’m not greedy. That would pay off the balance of my mortgage. I’d be a happy camper.

      • Rena says:

        I’d probably stick it in the bank, buy a nice new computer, move to somewhere nicer (hate it here), then pretty much just live off the interest.

    • Virginia Consumer says:

      Tax rates aren’t that bad (yet), but he will end up paying a pretty big chunk in taxes. Probably about 45% or so total between state and local.

      • Southern says:

        If he’s smart, before he takes possesion of the money he’ll move to a state that doesn’t HAVE a state income tax. :)

    • Thassodar says:

      $750,000 in taxes to the government? I don’t know where you live but if they take 75% of everything you make you need to move pronto.

      • deathbecomesme says:

        I got that number from a documentary where a winner of the PCH won $1mil. She ended up with about $250k after taxes. I assumed that would also apply here.

        • Bsamm09 says:

          Usually if you win $1mil it’s over 20 or so years and the lump sum is a lot less. Depending on where she lived and what decade, I agree with you.

          This guy is getting $1mil in a lump sum not the “PV” or whatever those annuity payments from PCH are structured as.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          She probably had a 40 year annuity and got or sold it off for a lump sum at a certain discounted interest rate.

          The “ultra combo prize” is $1 million plus $5,000 a week for life. And by the way, what’s the estimated chances that you’ll win that ultra combo prize? According to PCH, 1 in 1.75 billion.

    • enalzi says:

      Cue the flood of “Give me money” videos on YouTube…

    • Magspie says:

      Where did you get that figure?

    • Bsamm09 says:

      No taxes. It is a gift.

      • fatediesel says:

        The donor could make it a condition of the gift that the recipient is responsible for all taxes.

        • pf3 says:

          The donor is not responsible for any taxes that may apply.

          • fatediesel says:

            If it isn’t specified than it is the donor, not the recipient, that is responsible for taxes. Per the IRS website Q & A regarding taxes on gifts:
            Who pays the gift tax?
            The donor is generally responsible for paying the gift tax. Under special arrangements the donee may agree to pay the tax instead. Please visit with your tax professional if you are considering this type of arrangement.

          • AnthonyC says:

            In the US, the gift tax is paid by the giver, not the recipient.
            Unless this is somehow counted as income, or the giver makes the recipient sign a contract of some sort, I don’t see why the recipient would owe anything.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I wouldn’t complain if I had 150K.

    • chatnoir80 says:

      you make it sound like originally not having $150k and then having $150k just by asking is a bad thing.

  5. kcarlson says:

    Reminds me of that Million Pixel Project from a few years ago, where advertisers paid $1 per pixel to fill up a million pixel image. I think he actually sold the million pixels…

  6. Kibit says:

    His tax bill should be interesting…

  7. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    (is mad because she didn’t think of this first)

    • Kate says:

      So put up a video asking someone to give you a house instead.

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        Note to self: Put a video out on the interwebs asking for TWO MILLION DOLLARS.

        • Kate says:

          Reminds me of that website that was selling squares of itself. You could put an ad in this teeny little 1 inch square for only a hundred or so. Made them a lot of money.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Yeah, do you remember the One Red Paperclip project from a few years back? The person swapping the paperclip in the hopes of getting things of slightly increasing value until he could swap for a house? Documenting each swap–like the paperclip for a pencil, then the pencil for a pen, and the pen for a mug or whatnot. Wealthy local business owners heard about the project and began contributing for the publicity.

      The way getting projects like this to work is one part creative ingenuity and like ninety-nine parts good publicity.

  8. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Ohhh…my bad…that was my grandfather on the phone….he thinks he is a millionaire and likes to pretend to give out money to people.

  9. Kate says:

    I wouldn’t count your money til it’s in your hands.

  10. Bsamm09 says:

    If this a gift with no strings attached he would not owe any taxes. The giver would.

  11. evnmorlo says:

    It will be funny when he gets a Nigerian check.

  12. Bsamm09 says:

    Actually…now that I look at this more I bet the IRS will go after him. He is a comedian and made a comedy video and someone gave him $1,000,000. I believe that he would win in court if it is truly a gift but I bet the IRS will go after him because of all of the publicity.

    Should be interesting.

    • RandomHookup says:

      As long as one of them pays, they probably won’t care much.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        I was thinking along the lines of Trade or business income. i.e self employment. “comedian makes comedy video” and gets a “gift’ of $1,000,000. I don’t think the IRS would win but I bet they would take a hard look at it.

        It’s not like you grandma gives you a gift of $1,000,000

        “Donative intent on the transferor’s part is not an essential element in applying the gift tax on the transfer. 3 The tax is applied based on the objective facts of the transfer and the circumstances under which it is made, rather than on the donor’s subjective motives. 4
        3 Regs. §25.2511-1(g)(1); Wells Fargo Bank New Mexico, N.A. v. U.S., 319 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir. 2003) (Decedent’s lifetime transfer of funds to irrevocable QTIP trust was completed gift subject to federal gift tax, despite absence of donative intent, which is required element for a completed gift under state law).
        4 Id. However, in Heyen v. U.S., 945 F.2d 359 (10th Cir. 1991), the Tenth Circuit held that the regulation does not preclude consideration of donative intent and subjective motives in determining whether a donor made a gift.”

        Got this from my research software so I can’t provide link.

  13. Southern says:

    There is also a “Lifetime Exemption” gift tax limit of $1,000,000 for the giver.

    Meaning that they are allowed to give up to $1,000,000 to anyone, over their lifetime, and not have to pay any gift taxes.

    That $1,000,000 exemption limit does NOT include the yearly $13,000 per individual limit, either.. Only on amounts OVER that.. So if they give someone $13,000, they don’t use any of their lifetime exemption. If they give someone $14,000, they use $1,000 of their lifetime exemption.

    So it’s theoretically possible that neither the giver NOR the receiver will have to pay ANY taxes on this gift.

  14. MNGirl says:

    Just goes to show that it never hurts to ask. Just a couple weeks ago my husband put an ad on craigslist, asking if and dentist was willing to do volunteer work. When he was younger, he was into drugs, including meth, and quick all of that when he was 18, he is now 25. He is very proud of himself, but every time he looks at his teeth, he is reminded of his past. He hates to smile, or have his picture taken, and it kills his self esteem. By putting that ad up, he got excepted into a program, and is now getting his teeth fixed. We didn’t really expect anything to come from it, but decided “What can it hurt?” If you want something, ask, the worst that will happen to you? Nothing. The best thing? Someone will say yes.

  15. Rocket says:

    Why make billions, when you can make millions?

  16. yessongs says:

    The IRS goes… Give me half of your million!

  17. lucky13 says:

    Reminds of the early SNL bit with al Franken:

    “That’s right, just send one dollar to Al Franken…”

  18. BrooklynKnight says:

    I hope he pays the taxes first.

  19. watchwhathappens says:

    “Willow Smith: go into your parents’ money room…”


  20. janeslogin says:

    Old, old gimmick. Check the Kansas City Star ads in the late ’50s. Someone posted to the affect ‘last chance to send $15 to [such and such]’. Resulted in some kind of a fraud arrest and conviction.