Dumb & Dumber, the Appetizers — Marky Misses the Mark, and the Aggies Fumble the Financial Football
Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m here for the ho-ho-horrible.
If this is your first Dumb & Dumber column, welcome to my monthly wrap-up of poor decisions that could lead to financial misfortune. It helps distract me from my credit card bills, which contain a plethora of poor decisions.
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November gave me much to be thankful for.
I mean, the Biden administration is allowing Iran — funder of Hamas — to access as much as $10 billion held in escrow in Iraq. Just in time, because the war with Israel is gonna get expensive! Meantime, donors fooled into actually giving Rep. George Santos money learned he may have spent some of it at OnlyFans, the website best known for people posing nude. And a hearing about organized labor in the august chambers of the United States Senate devolved into a game of “Quien es mas macho?” as Sen. Markwayne (a real name) Mullin, R-OK, wanted to physically take on Teamsters President Sean O’Brien. Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders told Mullin to “Sit down… you’re a United States Senator.” Bernie Sanders, Voice of Reason — words I never thought I’d write.
But this is all low-hanging fruit. Let’s aim higher.
I divide D&D into two parts. Today, you get a Thanksgiving cornucopia of appetizers. Tomorrow, we dive into the turkeys.
RICH PEOPLE ROUNDUP
The higher the bank balance, the lower the social IQ.
— Jim Irsay is a billionaire who inherited the Indianapolis Colts from his father. He’s battled drug addiction. He lost a sister in a car accident, and a former mistress overdosed in a home he bought her (allegedly) with Colts money. He’s also given a lot to charity. It’s complicated.
What’s not complicated, only ridiculous, is Irsay’s claim that he was arrested for DUI in 2014 because he was Driving While Wealthy. “I am prejudiced against because I'm a rich, white billionaire," Irsay told Andrea Kremer in a story for HBO’s Real Sports. When Kremer suggested that Irsay might come off as a little, well, insane, for that sentiment, he replied, “I don’t care what it sounds like. It’s the truth.” Luckily for Jim Irsay, he can afford not to care.
— Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly has an open marriage. Hey, it’s a free country. But I might suggest that if the billionaire’s marriage was a tad more closed, he could’ve avoided committing $100 million to a “startup accelerator” run by his 29-year-old girlfriend, Michelle Ritter. The accelerator is called Steel Perlot (no one knows what that name means, btw) and the firm plans to build and support “the defining platform technologies of our time.” However, Forbes reports that Steel Perlot can’t cover its own payroll and credit card debt — totaling millions of dollars — and Ritter asked Schmidt’s family office to cover those costs.
Perhaps that’s one reason sources tell Forbes that Schmidt and Ritter are currently “spending less time together.”
— WeWork is bankrupt, but founder Adam Neumann is still a billionaire! The man who nearly destroyed the company, before being forced out, continues to work on his new venture, Flow. Flow aims to do for apartment living what WeWork did for the office — make things fun!
The venture received a ginormous $350 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz (whose co-founder wrote last month’s tech manifesto), and Bloomberg reports that Flow is valued at over $1 billion.
It was supposed to open its first properties in 2023.
We’re still waiting.
— Mark Wahlberg looked miserable for 20 minutes on Nov. 20th’s ManningCast for Monday Night Football, dismissing attempts by Peyton and Eli Manning to engage in banter and lamely predicting a field goal at one point (“Who predicts a field goal?” Eli later asked.) The longer it went, the worse it got.
Wahlberg bombed on the wrong night. The game between the Eagles and the Chiefs drew MNF’s highest ratings in almost 30 years, and nearly two million viewers tuned into the Mannings. Marky Mark’s performance may have done more damage to his career than “Daddy’s Home 2.”
— We don’t have many women appearing on D&D, mostly because we don’t make enough money to qualify. I’m happy to report that’s changing! Shakira couldn’t dance her way out of a massive tax lawsuit in Spain, so she agreed to pay half the $16 million she owed to avoid a trial and potential eight-year prison sentence. The singer was accused by Spanish authorities of hiding the fact that she lived at least half the year in Spain between 2012 and 2014. (She still faces a second investigation into skipping out on $7 million in taxes in 2018.) Shakira said outside of court that she’s actually innocent, but it’s time to move on. Whenever. Wherever. Whatever.
— I’m predicting no more Super Bowl ads from Diddy.
Reps for the rapper/producer/mogul say there’s no way he made a sex slave out of singer Cassie, who filed a lawsuit claiming that he raped her and forced her to have sex with other people in so-called “Freak Offs.” The allegations are awful. Despite the denials, Diddy settled for an undisclosed amount within 24 hours of the suit being filed.
Cassie’s lawsuit was soon joined by two other women also alleging Diddy raped them (one claiming she was drugged, the other saying she was choked), as part of several suits filed last week to meet a New York deadline for cases long past the statute of limitations.
Diddy denies those claims as well. In the meantime, he’s resigned from being chairman of Revolt, a hip hop TV company.
— One rich guy who isn’t having problems right now? Jimbo Fisher, the fired Texas A&M football coach. After failing to replicate his success at Florida State, the Aggies have shown Jimbo the door, along with a Texas-sized severance.
If you need any more proof that college football is a professional sport, the university has to pay Fisher $77 million through 2031, a quarter of that within the next two months.
It costs between $30k-$58k to attend the university, depending on whether you’re in-state or not. By my calculations (punches calculator), his payout will equal the entire contribution of about 2,000 students.
— Mattel is rolling in the dough with the success of the “Barbie” movie, and it’ll no doubt sell more Barbies this Christmas. Some freebies will probably make their way to the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, but no one’s smiling. According to the Los Angeles Times, the toy giant has “inexplicably” reneged on a 2017 pledge to donate $49 million to the hospital, so UCLA has sued, claiming that Mattel is only offering “a few million dollars, plus a bunch of Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels cars and other in-kind donations.” Mattel counters that it paused donations because UCLA didn’t follow through with constructing a new tower.
At last, we may finally get an official Lawyer Barbie.
— In California, aka Sodom and Gomorrah, a pimp has been ordered to pay a prostitute more than $300,000 in back wages. That won’t fly in California, sir! The order came from a state appellate court after California’s Attorney General intervened on the prostitute’s behalf, arguing she was actually a victim of sex trafficking. Good for her. Meantime, the state’s going to hell. If only its top legal officer would intervene on behalf of, oh, I dunno, small businesses begging for shoplifting laws to be enforced.
— Amazon’s Black Friday algorithm must’ve been hacked. This was a suggested item for me “based on my previous purchases.” Still, look at that sales price!
— Bored Apes are digital assets on the blockchain called nonfungible tokens (NFTs). I know. I’d rather bet on tulip bulbs. At least they’re real. But NFTs were all the rage in 2021 as great investments. It hasn’t worked out. Prices have collapsed, even at the Bored Ape Yacht Club, considered the premiere NFT franchise. You can now grab one for the low, low price of $60,000. (Did I mention they’re not really real?)
But some people remain such believers in the Apes that they attended something called “ApeFest” this month in Hong Kong. It appears to have been three days of sound and light shows highlighting ape cartoons. So fun. Actually, not so fun. Several attendees had to go to the hospital because the lights burned their eyes.
— THE NOVEMBER CHUTZPAH AWARD!
Finally, an infamous ransomware group called Alphv/BlackCat has made quite a name for itself stealing data from companies like MGM and then demanding ransoms to return the info.
But when the group breached the security wall of a data company called MeridianLink, the company apparently refused to pay any ransom. So the hackers tried to increase pressure by filing a complaint with the SEC alleging that MeridianLink had failed to notify authorities of the breach.
We live in upside-down world now. This is the financial equivalent of kidnapping a child, demanding a ransom, and when the parents balk, notifying police that the family failed to report a crime.
My head is spinning.
Time for a nap before tomorrow’s entrees. The real D&D list is almost here…
An earlier version of this newsletter misidentified the subject of Sen. Mullin’s wrath as UAW president Shawn Fain, instead of Teamsters president Sean O’Brien.
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