In the month of March 2017, two local Portlanders separately discovered $100 bills hidden in copies of the book, The Cloud Seekers, in stores around the city. Jeffrey Winton, one of the lucky discoverers, found the money in the book at the Goodwill located on Southeast 52nd Avenue. Along with the money came a small note that stated:
“This book is free. If you need the money, please keep it. If you don’t, please give it to someone who does. You are not a Leftover. None of us are!”
The note was signed by Dustin Banks, a fictional character from the book.
Initially, the person behind these generous actions remained anonymous; however, the author of The Cloud Seekers, James Zerndt, eventually admitted when asked by KGW News that he had hidden the money along with his five-year old son, Jack, who had come up with the idea while watching Willy Wonka and the Charlie Factory.
In a tweet, Zerndt exclaimed “I’ll just say that my five year-old’s favorite movie is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. He says everyone deserves a golden ticket!” Jack later said in an interview, “I had an idea from ‘Willy Wonka” when we watched it that I think everybody should get a golden ticket. That’s not fair if only five people do. So my dad had the idea of going to put the money in his books to help people get money.”
Money was placed in five books. So far, only two of the lucky books have been found; three books stuffed with $100 bills are still waiting to be discovered.