Bluff The Listener
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Roxanne Roberts, Jordan Carlos and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill. Thank you so much. Right now...
SAGAL: Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to play our game on the air.
Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
EVAN HILL: Hi. This is Evan Hill in Corning, N.Y.
SAGAL: Evan Hill from Corning, N.Y., home of Corning Glass, right?
SAGAL: I'm going to ask you a strange question. My father, when he got out of graduate school many decades ago, had two job offers - one in New Jersey, which he took, and one in Corning, working for them, that he didn't take. So I've always wondered, what would it have been like to grow up in Corning, N.Y.?
HILL: Oh, it's great. We're not far from the Finger Lakes, so we have that entire wine culture here. And the museum is great. We often shatter expectations.
SAGAL: You had me going there for a while, and then you made that pun, so...
SAGAL: Welcome to our show, Evan. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. What is the topic, Bill?
KURTIS: I've got a billion dollars and nothing to spend it on. Boohoo.
SAGAL: Billionaires have it hard. In fact, a recent news story indicated that many billionaires don't know what to do with all of their money. Well, this week, we heard about a very, very rich person coming up with a very clever way to spend some of that money. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?
HILL: Sure am.
SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Jordan Carlos.
JORDAN CARLOS: In New York City, your friendly neighborhood billionaire will tell you the struggle is real. Their chic downtown townhouses don't even come equipped with driveways. Are we living in communist Russia? So what's a master of the universe to do when you can't park in front of your own (unintelligible)? Exactly - get a construction crew to build you a big window that looks like a garage door, make a cut in the curb so it looks like a driveway, put up some no parking driveway signs, and, bingo - your own private parking space on a public street. He even hired servants to run out and warn anybody who dared park in front of the completely fake driveway. West Village neighbors - many of whom, it should be noted, belong not to the 1% but the poverty-stricken 2%...
CARLOS: ...Say thanks to those enforcers, many of their cars have been towed for parking in front of his faux garage. Eyal Levin had to pay hundreds to get his car out of the tow pound after he parked on what is technically a parking space. Mr. Levin complained, and the city got involved. New York council speaker Corey Johnson says, if this curb cut is illegal, then it should be removed immediately. If the city rules against him, the mogul could face a fine in the amount of a portfolio-shattering $500.
SAGAL: A billionaire living in Greenwich Village fakes a driveway so he can claim a piece of the street for his own. Your next story of a Richie Rich comes from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: Everyone in Sweden knows Johann Lundberg (ph) loves hamsters. Five years ago, the billionaire developer opened Europe's biggest state-of-the-art hamster rescue, and he uses the adorable rodent as his company's mascot. Lundberg unveiled his new pride and joy this month, a hamster-inspired summer house on the coast of Gothenburg. The 5 million-euro estate is designed around a series of giant plastic tubes modeled...
ROBERTS: ...After the orange Habitrails of his youth that Lundberg and his family uses to move from room to room. But his favorite spot is the home gym and its 10-meter hamster wheel...
ROBERTS: ...That supplies half of the energy used in the eco-friendly mansion. Quote, "you know how happy hamsters are when they run on their wheel? When I run, I am that happy, too."
SAGAL: A billionaire in Europe, a hamster lover, makes himself a Habitrail for humans. Your last story of a smart spender comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Tulsa, Okla., is now home to the largest piggy bank in the world. It belongs to wealthy local financier Tommy Haberer (ph). The giant brass swine stands one story high. The installation is reflected in the mirrored Laredo Holdings Inc. office building and instantly became a selfie magnet when unveiled on July 4. Already, thousands of people have climbed the tall ladder that leans against the pig's substantial belly to deposit money into its slot. And who do those deposits fatten? One-percenter Tommy Haberer.
I've never seen anything like it, says Sheriff Austin Micah (ph). This is the richest guy in town, and people are literally throwing money at him. I'll bet there's already $50,000 in there. I've spent hours juggling bowling balls and chicken wings in the hot Oklahoma sun, says street performer Scoopy the Clown (ph), and found only a few bucks and some melted chocolate in my hat. This clown does nothing. People are stupid. Some of them actually think my feet are this big.
SAGAL: All right.
POUNDSTONE: Wait a minute - there's one more.
SAGAL: All right.
POUNDSTONE: I thought I was ordering bacon, said one disappointed-looking visitor stepping away from the ladder.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: Now may I? May I? So somewhere, a billionaire did something interesting with his money. Was it, from Jordan Carlos, a guy who owns a townhouse in New York decides to fake a driveway just so he can keep the parking space on the street for himself; from Roxanne Roberts, a hamster-loving billionaire in Europe decides to build a Habitrail for himself so he can run through the tubes and run around on the wheel; or, from Paula Poundstone, a billionaire who just put an enormous piggy bank out front and lets people give him even more money? Which of these is a real story of a creative use of excess funds?
HILL: I'm going to go with Jordan and the fake driveway.
SAGAL: You're going to go with Jordan and the fake driveway...
SAGAL: ...The guy in New York. Well, we spoke to somebody who was intimately involved in the real story.
EYAL LEVIN: He made it look like a driveway, but it's all an illusion. There's no actual driveway or garage in his property.
SAGAL: That was Eyal Levin, whose car was towed...
SAGAL: ...When he parked in front of the fake driveway.
SAGAL: Congratulations, Evan. You got it right.
HILL: Thank you.
SAGAL: You earned a point for Jordan, and you've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Congratulations, Evan. Well done.
HILL: Thank you so much.
SAGAL: Thank you for playing. Bye-bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO PARKING (ON THE DANCE FLOOR)")
MIDNIGHT STAR: (Singing) No parking, baby. No parking on the dance floor. No parking, baby. No parking on the dance floor. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.