The Zackville Zillionaire

A zillionaire loved his native Zackville so much that he wrote a will that said that upon his death, anyone in the town could come to the  town office and get a check for a million dollars from his trust fund. The checks were already made out in the name of every resident soon before he died.  After he died, some of his friends who remembered his words went right down to the office, and sure enough, they were handed their checks for a million dollars. They had a great time spending it and lived wonderfully.

Years later, it turned out that only 2%of the people in Zackville had ever gone to the town office and gotten their checks. Part of the reason was that people just couldn’t believe such a good deal was really available.  “You never get something for nothing,” sneered Jacob, who never got his check.  “I don’t believe that guy was really a zillionaire anyway; people who liked him just made that stuff up to give him a name,” quipped Francois. “I’ll bet he was just a legend perpetuated by the locals, not a real person,” offered From-Away Fred, who has just moved into town.  “I can’t afford to drive into town on my piddly income with $3 gas,” sighed Ida, oblivious to the obvious fact that she would get far more than she gave up if she would go accept the offer.

With the evidence of massive lifestyle improvements for those who had collected their checks, it was hard to picture why anyone would doubt that the arrangement was for real.  After much research, someone got to the bottom of it.  Some people who worked at the town office but had never met the zillionaire in person and had no clue about the arrangement were telling people who called, “Don’t bother showing up. That huge windfall isn’t really available to anyone – it’s all fiction.”  And rather than going downtown and reviewing the legal records for themselves (which would have led to their immediate enrichment), they just took the word of the town hall people. “After all, they make a living doing town hall stuff, so if anyone would know, they would,” said Gus.