In his first day on the 2016 campaign trail, Rand Paul raised just less than $1 million -- meaning that he only spent a little more than two hours worth of said fundraising on RandPaul.com. For you see, the National Journal reports that Paul's team laid out $100,980 to buy the domain from the people who'd owned it for years.
In our online guide to Paul, we noted that the domain had changed hands several times. In 2008, it was owned by opponents of his; more recently, by supporters. But not so supportive that Paul got it on the cheap, apparently.
"Normally for a firstname-surname [domain], that would be on the high side," said Ron Jackson of the online domain news magazine DN Journal when we reached him by phone. "But these are special circumstances."
Jackson explained that domains which represented personal names were a tricky proposition in the world of domain sales. "If you're a public figure and someone holds your domain name dot-com and is trying to make money from it, you can get that name from them by filing a UDRP," referring to ICANN's uniform dispute resolution process. That would cost a few thousand dollars in legal fees. But in the case of RandPaul.com, which was a fan site that appears not to have hosted ads, that wasn't an option. In 2001, Bruce Springsteen tried to gain control of BruceSpringsteen.com, but since the owner wasn't making money directly from the site, Springsteen couldn't take control. (The Boss is still at BruceSpringsteen.net.)
There are some politics behind Paul's purchase, too. Rand Paul suing or taking legal action against fans in order to control his domain would probably not result in the sort of press a new presidential candidate wants to see.
DN Journal has lists of the most expensive domain sales, but very few of them are proper names. "You don't see a lot of those," Jackson said, "because they can be taken in a UDRP action. So most people, if they're smart, are not going to buy them." And that's particularly because if the content is offensive or libelous to the person (or organization) whose name is being used, there can be penalties of up to $100,000 per domain. "Instead of being an asset, you potentially have a massive liability," he said.
He put it more bluntly: "It's kind of a stupid investment."
So how does the cost of RandPaul.com stack up in general? We skimmed the list of most expensive domain sales of the past five years to see what other domains $101,000 (rounding up just slightly) might buy you. And we put together the quiz that follows, which is just plain, old-fashioned online fun.
(Because we here at washingtonpost.com are being very careful not to insult Mr. Washington Post of Alleghany, Pa. This domain means an awful lot to us.)