$15,000 for potato salad? The man behind the bizarre Kickstarter campaign explains


(Kickstarter)

UPDATE: Just before publication, Brown’s Kickstarter campaign showed he raised more than $44,000 (see screengrab above). But by 6:39 p.m. EST, the Kickstarter project page indicates that just over $15,000 was raised. We’ve reached out to Kickstarter about the discrepancy and will update this post when we hear back.

UPDATE 2 7:00 p.m.: According to a Kickstarter spokesman, tens of thousands of dollars in “ghost” pledges were probably a result of user error. “When you’re backing a project you get to choose how much money its very possible that someone chose $10,000 instead of $100,” Justin Kazmark said. We’ve updated the post to reflect the fix.

His middle name is “Danger” (so he claims) and he’s on a well-funded mission to make … potato salad.

The man behind Kickstarter’s $44,000 $15,000 (and counting) campaign says he’s ready for the challenge. In fact, after more than 1,900 people inexplicably committed their hard-earned dollars to fund Zack Danger Brown’s quest to make his first-ever batch of potato salad, Brown said in an interview that he feels “no pressure at all.”

“We will not be letting the Internet down,” Brown said confidently in an interview Monday from Columbus, Ohio.

The potato salad “project” is in some ways a classic encapsulation of the Internet’s promise and potential peril. Brown kept his goal simple: Help him raise $10 to try his hand at a bowl of potato salad. Mayo or vinegar based? He didn’t even know.

“Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet,” he wrote Saturday.

By Monday, he’d dramatically blown past that goal. Most contributors pledged small amounts, but some gave $50 or more.

To help Brown make potato salad.

“There was never any, ‘Hey how can we validate our business model,’ ” he said. “It was about potato salad and potato salad only. Sincerity is important. That’s why people react to it.”

With more than $44,000 $15,000 entrusted to him at the time of publication — all for potato salad! — we wondered whether Brown felt any guilt under the oppressive weight of that responsibility. After all, this was a sincere but not particularly noble cause. Children were not being saved or educated. Or even fed. There was no higher purpose. Just potato salad. It is both absurd and fascinating.

And Kickstarter’s terms of service prohibit advertising that any contributions will go toward charitable donations, so what he does with any excess funds has to remain pretty vague, Brown said.

In the meantime, the project has taken on a life of its own: Brown is scheduled to be on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday morning, and he’s been otherwise busy on the media circuit while trying to cultivate his loyal donors by answering questions such as: “So wait, I thought the $3 pledge included you spoon feeding each of us a bite of the potato salad no matter where we lived?”

Brown’s answer: “I promise you I am working with people right now to assess the feasibility of sending potato salad around the world. I will do everything I can to make a bite of potato salad a reality.”

At this point, even shipping a batch of potato salad to everyone who backed the project may be a bit of a stretch, so Brown is eyeing an “epic party” in Columbus around Labor Day.

He plans to make four batches of potato salad at least, but he’s also exploring the possibility of publishing a cookbook of potato salad recipes from around the world.

“I think at this point the thing that I’m most concerned about is not betraying their trust,” he added.

If you don’t feel like waiting to see how this one pans out, go ahead, make your own daring attempt at potato salad. What’s that you say? You don’t know how? Here are 23 recipes that can help.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com or (202) 334-9172. On Twitter: @abbydphillip

 

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