Last month, Chris Reynolds had $140 dollars in his PayPal account. On Saturday, he had a little more — $92 quadrillion, or $92,233,720,368,547,800, to be exact.
The 56-year-old public relations executive from Media, Pennsylvania, says he was shocked to see “a number with a lot of digits” when he opened his PayPal statement for June.
For a moment, Mr. Reynolds thought he owed someone $92 quadrillion, or 5,411 times the national debt.
“That was sobering,” he says.
But after Reynolds wrote about the incident on Facebook, his friends pointed out that the statement read “credit,” not “debt.” Forget Bill Gates and his $72 billion: with a whopping 17-digits to his name, Reynolds had just become the world’s richest man.
“People suggested I might have had long lost relations reappear,” Reynolds says.
When Reynolds logged into his PayPal account to double-check the numbers, his account balance read $0. The whole thing had been a glitch on his statement.
PayPal apologized to Reynolds for the error and offered to make a donation to a nonprofit of his choice.
Since the brief blunder, Reynolds, who works at the PR firm he co-founded with his wife (Reynolds Ink), says he has had some time to think about what he would have done with $92 quadrillion.
The first thing he would have spent the money on was not a sports car, a vacation home, or even an early retirement.
“I’d want to pay down the US’ national debt. That’s been really bugging me,” Reynolds says.
“I’m just a modest man. I would want to buy something for myself — maybe the Philadelphia Phillies, if I found a good deal. The rest of it, I’d invest, because that’s what my father-in-law would want me to do,” Reynolds says.
He would have had plenty left over to do so as a quadrillionaire.
Nevertheless, Reynolds says there was still a silver lining in PayPal's mistake. Friends he had not spoken to in years reconnected with him when he shared his experience on Facebook. And although he is usually a man who gets his clients into headlines, Reynolds has become the focus of attention himself through his fleeting moment with $92 quadrillion.
“I’m enjoying a brief transit as an Internet meme,” Reynolds says.