The $100,000 money drop that went bad
Meet Andrew Thorn, the man behind New Zealand's worst stunt: "Hi David, f**k you too"
Something quite weird happened over the weekend in New Zealand. On online store called “The Safety Warehouse” held a money drop in the middle of Auckland City.
A literal $100,000 was meant to rain down on the crowd, where the best and fittest could gleefully and joyfully grab it, arms outstretched to the skies.
It’s been a tough year with financial pressures we haven’t experienced in quite some time. What could possibly go wrong? Well, turns out quite a lot.
Especially when some of that money raining down was pretend.
The headlines say it all.
“Anger, violence after fake money handed out in $100k cash drop” wrote Stuff.
“Man hospitalised in Auckland after The Safety Warehouse’s ‘$100k cash drop’ turns violent and ‘fake money’ handed out” reported the Herald.
The Safety Warehouse hit back, claiming in a press release that real money was definitely dropped, and the fake money was just added into the mix. As Radio NZ reported:
In a statement, the company said it did drop real funds, and the vouchers were additional. It said the company did not intend to deprive, mislead or embarrass anyone and it stood by its marketing and what was issued during the drop.
The more I thought about this, the more it annoyed me. I am yet to see proof of any real money being handed out — I’ve only seen videos of people clutching the fake $5 bills.
But let’s say $100,000 of real money did fly down from the skies: this is still a dick move. It’s a recipe for disaster. People travelled from far and wide to attend this thing. Putting it frankly, people who needed the money. This wasn’t a game show. It was real life. How was this a good idea?
Manurewa grandmother Haki Ani TePaea, 46, said her daughter suffered a strained shoulder and her son got knocked as the crowd surged forward to catch fake money that was shot out of what looked like a gun.
And say that $100,000 was handed out — there’s still the fact they added fake bills to the mix.
Surely the owner of The Safety Warehouse would offer some kind of apology — or hint that they understood what went down wasn’t great. They didn’t. This line from their press release shows what they think of those who are upset:
“A select few ruined the tone for everyone, but they were no means the norm - just a few people who did not obtain as much value as they’d hoped.”
Let me translate: Yeah, poor people. Fuck poor people!
The direct messages.
Last night, before I went to sleep, I sent The Safety Warehouse a DM. I just felt I needed to express my feelings:
And this morning, at 5.58am, they replied:
I admit my message wasn’t subtle, but I sort of felt they needed to hear it. And to be honest, their reply is sort of on brand.
The man who runs The Safety Warehouse, and who was quoted in the media over the weekend, is Andrew Thorn — this tall glass of water:
Thorn experienced some problems in one of his last business ventures, Thorn Engineering Ltd, which was liquidated in 2016. That whole mess culminated in him allegedly trying to run a woman down in his car:
Thorn had been trespassed from the premises of two of his companies in Bromley. He lost the companies’ equipment and plant and lost access to the company accounts.
The woman victim of his driving had been undertaking management services for his company.
As the woman was unlocking her car to leave work at 5pm on June 22, she said she heard an engine revving and saw a grey utility vehicle that had the signwriting for Thorn’s company. She said the vehicle accelerated heavily and drove on the wrong side of the road in her direction.
“She identified you as the person driving and believed you were trying to hit her. She leaned up against the side of her own vehicle and the other vehicle missed her by 30cm or so,” the judge said.
When spoken to by the police, Thorn initially denied being the driver and then neglected to provide details about the driver as required.”
The original charge of “assault with a blunt instrument” was settled out of court with the police, but Thorn pleaded guilty to the charges of driving in a dangerous manner, and failing to give information about a driver to police.
So yeah, I imagine it was Andrew Thorn I was messaging with. I sent him the article, telling him that he seemed “unhinged”:
I was waking up and the coffee was still sinking into my system, but I thought I’d wait to see what he said next. What he did was what I like to call “the classic” — getting stuck into the media, calling them “parasites”:
I decided to clarify if it was Andrew Thorn I was talking to. I felt incredibly grateful I was in bed, as opposed to unlocking my car while hearing a nearby car revving its engine.
Whoever I was messaging with didn’t seem to want to tell me their name, so let’s just call them “Andrew”.
By this point I was sort of wondering if Andrew was capable of stepping back to see how this all looked, for him, and his company. That perhaps at this point lashing out of those who complained about a fake money drop wasn’t the best move. I tried to explain this.
And… Andrew sent me a press release. I suggested, like Radio NZ had, that he really did need to hire a public relations professional.
I asked one last time if I was talking to Andrew Thorn, but just got told off again. So I offered a final bit of advice. Why? I don’t even know. I just thought in my naivety that maybe I could get through to him.
My message sits on “seen”.
Birds of a feather.
I wonder what is going through Andrew Thorn’s mind. I imagine it’s a balance of rage and confusion. Confusion at the world and how it works.
And I think maybe there’s a grim sense of joy in this for him, too. All speculation, of course — but something leads me to think this is true. Because while The Safety Warehouse has deleted most comments on its social media, a few remain. This one stood out to me:
It stood out to me because it’s racist, it’s baiting, and I recognised the name. “NZ Masks Limited” is James Bryant, a man who also resides in the South Island, who took to stalking and harassing me this year.
So I guess it’s not all that surprising that one of the few comments The Safety Warehouse’s Andrew Thorn chose to leave up was a racist comment up from James Bryant.
Birds of a feather.
2020 is full on, right? All gas, no brakes.
8.11am, Monday 7th, New Zealand. Since this newsletter went out, a flood of messages from The Safety Warehouse.
“Our team has zero involvement with MasksNZ […] The comments were not “left” on and merely missed”.
The comment has now been mysteriously removed.
“Andrew” also sent me images of real $5 bills allegedly in the mix. As I stated, whether real money was dropped or not — the fact this whole event went ahead, and that fake bills were in the mix, is just a recipe for disaster. Especially with ad copy like this:
After reading words like that, money like this is not going to go down well (for those not from NZ, this is not real money):
The Safety Warehouse still refuses to say who I am DMing with.