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Social Issues

The great potato-salad Kickstarter may end up paying off for charity
What started as a joke could end up being $70,000 for some greater good

Karen Kasler
"Danger" Brown says he still hasn't picked the recipe for his potato salad, but know he isn't going to hold onto the money.
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In The Region:

A Columbus man is finding out what it’s like to start a joke and see it go around the world. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler talked with the man who’s made international headlines with his plea for money to make a popular summer side dish.

LISTEN: Kasler on the most expensive potato salad ever

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LISTEN: Lots more potato salad

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Long version text: The request went up on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter last week - $10 to make potato salad. 

“No experiment, no commentary. This was really about, ‘Can I get a little laugh out of my friends, raise a small amount of money and throw a party for them?’”

That’s Zack”Danger’ Brown, who owns a web and mobile applications business in Columbus. 
“It’s something that I thought, ‘Hey, I know seven or eight people will find this pretty funny. And it turns out a lot more than that found it pretty funny.”

Lots more got in on the joke
Within a week, more than 5,500 people had tossed about $70,000 toward Brown’s potato-salad project. The total has gone up and down as some contributions turn out to be fake. Brown says he understands the criticisms that his project –- which he calls “absurd” – has gotten so much attention when other projects remain unfunded. He says he’s working to figure out how to distribute the money to charitable causes, which Kickerstarter’s terms of service don’t allow. 

“I know for sure this money isn’t going in my pockets – it’s not going in any of my friends’ pockets. We are using it for the greater good. As for the implementation of that, we’re working to figure that out with Kickstarter.”

Taxes and charities
As Brown figures out how to use that money, he’s also dealing with a huge potential tax bill – when the fund was up around $70,000, it was estimated he could owe $21,000 in federal, state and local taxes. He says he’s handed that business off to others.  Meanwhile, dollars aren’t the only contributions he’s getting. 

Kasler: “Where did you get the recipe for your potato salad?”
Brown: “Oh, I don’t have a recipe.”
Kasler: “So you need a recipe for potato salad.”
Brown: “Yeah, so we committed to four different types of potato salad. As you can imagine, we’ve gotten people sending in recipes. You know, I think we’re going to have to figure out how we want to decide what recipe we use.”

Brown says when he does get his recipes, he plans to fulfill the promises he made to them on the Kickstarter page, including saying the names of all the backers when he makes the potato salad. And he also says he wants to use this project to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness, and hopes to host a big public event to raise money for those causes.

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