23 December 2010

Technicality: How to Lose USD 800,000

If you had USD 880,000 to place on the following question:

"Which popular product was first to go on sale in the US: Post-It Notes, the Sony Walkman, or Macintosh Computers?"

The big question is, would you put 800K of that on Post-It Notes? Even more importantly, how would you feel when you found out that the "correct" answer according to producers of the show, Million Dollar Money Drop, was the Sony Walkman?

This is something that Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayi experienced recently. Gabe was so confident that the Post-It Notes went on sale first that he risked 800K of their 800K pot. But, Gawker, one of my favourite sites of late, is reporting that the answer, Post-It Notes is in fact correct, particularly when one considers that the question did not stipulate whether "sale" had to be nationally. The YouTube video clearly shows how the question was constructed and what was required.

The truth of the matter is that Post-It Notes went on sale in a number of US states for a series of market trials in 1977. The Post-It Notes then went on sale nationally in 1980. The Sony Walkman went on sale in the US in 1979

The Facebook page of Post-It Notes seems to support arguments for Gabe and Brittany getting "their" money back. Nevertheless, Fox is standing firm behind the producers of their game show and arguing that Post-It Note agrees with them that they did not actually start selling Post-It Notes until 1980. Yet, despite these protestations, it would seem that it is a fairly well-established fact that Post-It Notes have been around for sale since 1977. So well-established that the New York Times even wrote a story quoting the first forays into Post-It Note sales occurred in 1977.

If Rupert Murdoch was a man of principle then he would be ordering the Million Dollar Money Drop game show and its producers to rectify their mistake and return the money to the contestants.

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