‘Cash Tomato’ Stunt Gets Unruly, Cops Called In
March 1, 2008
A Web site’s promotional Leap Day cash giveaway turned into a free-for-all as restless recipients mobbed the organizers and trampled one another to get at the loot.
Shouting “Make it rain!” and “Give me my money!,” a restless crowd converged on the costumed CashTomato.com representatives as the clock ticked toward the event’s scheduled time, 2:29 p.m. Friday.
The publicity stunt was supposed to involve giving away prizes of up to $29, but the throng soon wrested bags of cash-stuffed envelopes and other items from the CashTomato workers stationed outside Manhattan’s Union Square Park, said Jason Buzi, who identified himself as the online video-sharing site’s senior vice president.
Then the giveaway degenerated into a melee.
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“Before I knew it, I was on the floor” and under a pile of people, said Anabel DeJesus, 17, who left without any prize.
“It’s not worth it,” she said.
Police didn’t have information early Saturday on whether any injuries or arrests resulted from the fracas.
Buzi said CashTomato had staged relatively uneventful giveaways in other cities, and he was startled by the mayhem in Manhattan.
“It turned out to be a lot of aggressive people,” he said. “Maybe next time, I would plan this better.”