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The Potato Salad Kickstarter is a satirical crowdfunding campaign started by Columbus, Ohio resident Zack Brown to raise money for the sole purpose of making potato salad. Despite the utter lack of general information and logistical details surrounding the project, Brown’s Kickstarter campaign quickly surpassed its $10 goal and went on to raise more than $50,000 in less than a week.
On July 3rd, 2014, Zack Brown submitted a Kickstarter proposal for a project simply titled “Potato Salad.” The description of the project read:
“I’m making potato salad.
Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.
Brown set the goal at $10 and end date to August 2nd, 2014. Backer incentives included Brown saying the backer’s name while making the potato salad for a donation of at least $1 and a bite of the potato salad for a donation of at least $3.
The boiled potato dish appears to have originated in Europe, with several distinct types from various regions, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Romania and Syria.
After the Kickstarter campaign met its goals of $10, Brown began adding new “stretch goals” within the description, describing what he would do with more money. The first update featured three stretch goals:
* $35 – I will make 4x as much Potato Salad. I know $40 isn’t 4x $10, but you guys have earned it.
* $75 – Pizza Party!
* $100 – I will try two different Potato Salad recipes."
Additional incentives were added as well including a potato salad themed hat for donations of $25 dollars or more and a book of international potato salad recipes for donations of $50 or more.
News Media Coverage
On July 5th, Buzzfeed published an interview with Brown titled “Meet The Guy Who Launched A Wildly Successful Kickstarter To Make Potato Salad.” By July 5th, the campaign had already raised over $1,000 dollars and gained over 200 backers. Within the interview Brown explained his feelings on the campaign more than surpassing its goal, saying:
“[My original goal was] $10. I thought I could possibly get to $20 and have to make potato salad with a stranger. Now I get to make potato salad with the whole internet! Someone said they could help me set up a live stream, so I guess we’re doing that!"
He also hinted at a possible future Kickstarter campaign saying:
“I’ve been thinking of another, slightly larger project for some time, but for now I want to make sure this potato salad is done before I start it.”
On July 6th, the Kickstarter was covered by UpRoxx, by the 6th it had raised over $3,000 and gained over 600 backers. On July 7th the campaign was covered by many sites including The Verge and The Washington Post. By July 7th, the campaign had gained over $15,000 and over 2,000 bakers. As of July 8th, at 4:50 PM EST, the campaign had gained over $53,000 and over 4,000 backers.
AMA on Reddit
On July 6th, Brown hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything.  Questions ranged from what kind of add-ins would be included in the potato salad to why he had decided to make potato salad. When asked “What are your thoughts on how to safely mail a bite of potato salad? Some of the ingredients require refrigeration,” since some of the incentives included a bite of potato salad he explained:
“Yea, it’s going to be a challenge. I would have put it under risks if I had ever considered that anyone outside of Columbus would want some. I thought I’d just go to people’s houses and hand it off.”
Over the course of the following month, Brown’s absurd Kickstarter project managed to raise $55,492 from more than 6,900 backers, with an average donation of $8.03 per person. According to Kickstarter, the potato salad campaign became the fourth most-viewed page in the history of the website, trailing behind other wildly successful campaigns for the Ouya video game console, the Pebble smartwatch and the Veronica Mars movie.
On July 9th, the Tax Foundation speculated that Brown would have to pay $21,167 in taxes for the fundraiser, since the funds would constitute income once collected by Brown.
Days before the conclusion of the fundraiser, Brown posted an update to the Kickstarter page in which he announced that he will host a potato-themed benefit concert for the homeless on September 27th, 2014 at the Columbus Commons in Columbus, Ohio. Aptly named “PotatoStock,” Brown says the free-admission event will run from noon to 8 p.m. and all proceeds from selling concessions will go towards a fund to end poverty and homelessness in Central Ohio.
On September 25th, The Columbus Dispatch reported that Brown had received donations from the Idaho Potato Commission and other corporate sponsers to throw the event on the upcoming Saturday. According to The Guardian, Brown’s PotatoStock event, stocked with more than 3,000 pounds of potatoes, drew “thousands” of attendants to the Columbus Commons.
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