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A man spent $82,000 on gift cards. He gave one to everyone in his hometown

Plenty of $50 gift cards were given out among an Iowa town

SHARE A man spent $82,000 on gift cards. He gave one to everyone in his hometown
FILE - This Aug. 11, 2019 file photo shows Visa credit cards in New Orleans. The average American consumer will have spent more than $1,000 on gifts this season, according to the National Retail Federation. And with six out of 10 Americans not having at least $1,000 in savings in the first place, that money for gifts have to come from somewhere, and that “somewhere” is typically a credit card or a personal loan. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

This Aug. 11, 2019, file photo shows Visa credit cards in New Orleans. An Iowa man recently spent $82,000 on gift cards.

Jenny Kane, Associated Press

An anonymous donor recently bought a bunch of gift cards worth $82,000 — and he delivered them to everyone in his hometown.

What’s going on:

  • Residents in the town of Earlham, Iowa, found three $50 gift cards in their mailboxes. The town has 549 households, meaning everyone got $150 worth of gift cards, according to the Des Moines Register.
  • The gift cards were for West Side Bar and Grille, Hometown Market and Trostel’s Broken Branch.
  • The cards equate to just over $82,000, which means the donor spent more than $27,000 on each restaurant, the Des Moines Register reported.

How to happened:

  • An anonymous man spoke with Earlham Mayor Jeff Lille about a donor who wanted to send some money into the economy by purchasing 100 $50 gift cards, according to The Washington Post.
  • But Lille asked the donor to pump money into a new restaurant — Trostel’s Broken Branch. So the donor decided to up the amount of gift cards from 100 to 250 to 500 total, The Washington Post reported.
  • The mayor couldn’t believe it happened. He said: “(There are) bad things that have been happening. As the mayor of a small town, making the decision to close our community centers and city hall and our library and all of the other bad decisions that we’ve been forced to make — and then here’s this really great thing. It just tore down my walls.” 
  • Jennifer Trostel, the wife of the owner of the new Trostel’s Broken Branch, couldn’t believe it happened either, according to Newser.
  • She said: “You couldn’t believe that people would actually want to help you in such a huge way. It just gave us hope.”