It’s tough to see that Regis Philbin hosted game show taking off anytime soon. Had Argentina continued its 300 percent weekly inflation on a near worthless peso at the height of its financial collapse you still wouldn’t need a number anywhere near that. The use of the work quadrillion is pretty much the work of astrophysicists and I would imagine that they would invent a new form of measurement rather than having to write out, for example, 92,233,720,368,547,800. I mean that’s a just a big number. Now imagine the same number preceded by a dollar sign. I would love to tell you how long it would take every mint in the world to print that amount of money or its equivalent using the largest bill available in each currency it prints but my calculator doesn’t allow for the input of 17 digits.


Chris Reynolds PayPal Balance Sheet

It’s just not a number you see, that is of course you’re a 56-year old public relations executive named Chris Reynolds. He recently saw this number on his June Paypal balance sheet. I was watching CNN as I was waking up this morning and saw a teaser for an interview with Elon Musk and his next project. I doubt this was it. These are not the type of math mistakes you make when you are founder of both PayPal and Space X. But sure enough, by some massive error, this man had this amount in his PayPal account. Never mind that there is nowhere near this money in the world.

That would make Mr Reynolds – who uses PayPal to receive payments for selling vehicle parts on Ebay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) – over a million times richer than the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim—if Mr. Slim indeed still has a fortune of $73 billion. I still can’t help but believe Mr. Slim is the richest man, although I’m also thinking Vladimir Putin. You don’t just give away oligarchies do you?

The world’s annual gross domestic product, at $71.83 trillion, is still less than one 1/1000 of Mr. Reynolds newfound wealth. I’d be happy with the interest even if only on U.S. Treasury bonds.

When Mr. Reynolds logged into his account the number had been corrected to read his actual balance of $0, and then PayPal asked him to verify his credit card information or his account would be suspended. Talk about riches to rags.

Chris Reynolds and PayPal

Both Mr. Reynolds and PayPal were good sports after this fall from wealth. When asked what he would do with the money Mr. Reynolds didn’t miss a beat in saying that he would pay down the national debt (kinda cheap of him) and buy the Philadelphia Phillies. Really, the Phillies?

Pay Pal said, “This is obviously an error and we appreciate that Mr Reynolds understood this was the case,” the service said in a statement. It did not disclose how the mistake had occurred, saying it was against company policy to reveal information on customers’ accounts.

PayPal did say that they would be making a donation to the charity of Mr. Reynolds’ choice.  I think it’s safe to say that check, or PayPal remittance, will have considerably fewer zeroes.