Craigslist Gold Digger Meets Her Match

Craigslist Sued For Discriminatory Housing Ads
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In this piece of net lore, a self-described "spectacularly beautiful" woman posts an online personal ad stating her wish to pair off with a marriageable "rich guy" in New York City. A Wall Street banker replies, "Your offer... is plain and simple a crappy business deal." This exchange is entertaining and has been commented on by those who appreciate the economics lesson given by the respondent.

Description: Viral text / Forwarded email
Circulating Since: September 2007
Status: Unknown


This Appeared on Craigslist

What am I doing wrong?
Okay, I'm tired of beating around the bush. I'm a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I'm articulate and classy. I'm not from New York. I'm looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year...Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips?...I wouldn't be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn't able to match them—in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.

The Answer

Dear Pers-:
I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I'm not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here's how I see it.
Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal. Here's why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here's the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't be getting any more beautiful!
So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you're 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!
So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold...hence the rub...marriage. It doesn't make good business sense to "buy you" (which is what you're asking) so I'd rather lease. In case you think I'm being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It's as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.
Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as "articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful" as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn't found you, if not only for a tryout.
By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn't need to have this difficult conversation.
With all that said, I must say you're going about it the right way.
Classic "pump and dump."​​
I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.
Rob Campbell
Diversified Industrials Investment Banking
277 Park Avenue, 16/F, New York , NY 10172

Analysis of the Craiglist Gold Digger Exchange

Craigslist attracts its fair share of pranksters, so the authenticity of the above exchange—which began on September 25, 2007, with the post entitled "What am I doing wrong?"—has been questioned by some people since it first appeared.

"It does look as if the post was made sincerely," a Craigslist spokesperson told the New York Times two weeks after it was posted. But reporters' queries to the anonymous poster's mailbox went unanswered, and—to no one's surprise, really—she(?) has not stepped forward to claim authorship.

The Wall Street banker's response bears the signature line of Rob Campbell, an actual employee of J.P. Morgan Chase & Company's investment banking division, but the company denies he authored it, stating that Campbell merely forwarded the message as received, after that his email program automatically appended his signature line. This is perfectly plausible given that the same thing happens to "frequent forwarders" all the time. What's more, the exchange was already making the rounds before Rob Campbell's name became attached to it.

A well-known Craigslist prankster has also denied authoring the reply. Hoax or not, the complementary postings function well together as a humorous commentary on the state of the Battle of the Sexes.

Discussion Items from the Gold Digger Netlore

This exchange might be of use for a discussion of economic terms:

  • Depreciating assets: Discuss what will retain its value or even grow in value over time, compared with items that lose value, such as computers and cars.
  • Rent versus buy decisions: There are many times in life where you need to decide whether it makes economic sense to rent or buy, especially in regards to housing and transportation.
  • Efficient markets: This is the concept that buyers and sellers will arrive at pricing that reflects the worth of an item. If an item doesn't sell, it may be overpriced.
  • Pump and dump: This is a scheme to inflate the price of a stock you own through misleading statements and then sell it while you can at the higher price.
  • Historical context: The exchange happened at the height of the real estate boom and just before the economic bubble burst and sent Wall Street and the entire world economy into turmoil.

However, using this example in a classroom may go badly for any teacher or professor due to the sexual stereotypes and attitudes in the exchange. Instead, it might spark a conversation about those attitudes and whether they are still relevant in the current social climate.

  • Gold Digger: This is a demeaning term for a person who is looking for a relationship with somebody only for their wealth. The woman making this posting never mentions looking for a deep, loving, long-term relationship, but only for men who have a certain level of income. She is specifically looking for marriage, not for a short-term relationship.
  • Man Only Interested in a Woman's Appearance: The person who replied made statements that reflect a stereotypical attitude that a man would only be interested in a woman's appearance. He appears to only value a woman of youthful appearance and considers normal maturation and aging to be depreciation. He does not acknowledge any other reason for being in a long-term relationship with a woman.

Sources and further reading:

Acquisitive Craigslist Post Reddens Faces All Around
NY Times, October 8, 2007

Rob Campbell, Accidental Sexist
New York Magazine, October 8, 2007

The Economics of Gold-Digging
Freakonomics, October 9. 2007