Imagine you have $50,000 burning a hole in your pocket. You don’t need this money for retirement, college savings, or debt repayment. This cold, hard cash is yours to spend, and blowing it on something stupid won’t impact your long-term goals. Nope, you can do anything you want with this money – whatever your heart desires. What do you do?

Personally, I can think of a zillion ways to burn 50K and have boatloads of fun. The first thing that comes to mind is a ridiculously expensive vacation to some place I wouldn’t normally travel to – like the Maldives or Bora Bora. With a bottomless Mojito in hand, I would snorkel the reefs, show my kids luxury they never imagined, and get an oceanfront butt massage. A girl can dream, right?

But wait. Since $50,000 is enough money to make a real difference in our lives, I would probably do something much more practical. Some options I would actually consider:

  • Stashing it away for college. Since paying for college is a priority for us, I could see us putting $50,000 in my kids 529s and letting it grow until it’s time.
  • Saving it for retirement. If we stashed $50,000 away for retirement and earned 6 percent on our money for the next 20 years, we would have $160,366.57!
  • Pay our mortgage off. Using our $50,000 windfall, plus some cash we have on hand, I could pay off the mortgage on our primary residence in one fell swoop. Becoming mortgage-free would be much more rewarding than a trip to the Maldives could ever be!

In addition to these options, I would also consider giving all or some of the money to charity. With such a huge windfall, it would feel selfish not to give money to at least one project or organization I support. My top pick would probably be the local Humane Society, but I would also consider hosting a free spay-and-neuter clinic. Imagine all the animal lives I could save if I offered to pay for hundreds – or even thousands – of animals to get spayed or neutered!

Why Would Anyone Spend $50,000 to Shoot Things in Africa?

All of those potential ideas have me excited, but also confused. Why? Because, as we all know by now, people are spending similar amounts of money to fly to a foreign country and shoot things. Like the Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, for example.

Poor guy. All he wanted to do was hide behind an armored vehicle and kill something that would surely maul him to death if given the opportunity for a fair fight. It doesn’t sound like fun to me, but hey, who am I to judge? With $50,000 burning a hole in his pocket, Mr. Palmer was just trying to get maximum value out of his dollars – just like anyone else would.

Still, I think the fact that anyone would fork over that much money just to kill something they aren’t going to eat is both strange and appalling. When you think of all of the other things one could do with that money, flying somewhere to shoot stuff seems like an unlikely option.

So, why would anyone spend $50,000 to shoot things in Africa?

They don’t have a video game console.

Here’s what I’m imagining: People like Mr. Palmer have been denied the opportunity to play a fun, shoot em’ up game like Hitman or Shadows of the Damned. These games are ripe with the opportunity to shoot people – blood and gore included. Even better, no consequences! Now, if they would only come out with a new video game where you could kill exotic species or beloved, majestic big game, we would be all set.

They want unique, exotic wall decor.

Maybe people are just tired of the played-out wall decor options at their local Hobby Lobby or Bed, Bath and Beyond. They just want something different, you know? A taxidermied lion’s head could make a statement in your man cave in a way that a handful of Quentin Tarantino posters simply cannot. Just imagine how impressed your friends would be.

They want to appear powerful.

Showing dominance over an animal that would devour your balls if given the opportunity is one way to feel powerful. Of course, that type of dominance can only take place once the animal is dead or heavily sedated, but who cares? Details, schmetails. 

Trophy hunters crave danger and unique experiences.

“When you’re paying $55,000 for something, it’s probably a sign that — if it’s not necessarily illegal, certainly the animal you’re hunting is rare,” Michael Gurven, an anthropologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told “If you think about the danger of the actual hunt — sure, the animal itself is dangerous.” Although I can think of plenty of ways to get my rocks off without dropping $50,000, it’s easy to see how the thrill of the chase could motivate someone.

With all that being said, most trophy hunters have an entirely different argument for why people fly to foreign countries to shoot big, dangerous animals. To some people, it’s all about conservation. In fact, people like Palmer who pay $50,000 or more to hunt exotic beasts may be providing the funds that make conservation of these animals possible in the first place.

Of course, I’m not sure I buy that explanation. After all, if the whole point of conserving big game is so we can keep hunting them for fun, are we really accomplishing anything? That, my friends, may be a question for another day.

How Would You Spend $50,000?

Here’s my advice: If you’re in the mood for a thrill, toilet paper your neighbor’s house at 3:00 a.m. Prank call your grandparents. Get that tattoo you’ve always wanted. Run naked down the street at the crack of dawn. If you’re in the mood to shoot something, play Hitman on an Old Playstation 2, for heaven’s sake. That game is so much fun, and you don’t even have to leave your house!

Any of those activities – or all of them combined – will cost a lot less than $50,000, which means you’ll have more money for the things that really matter in life.

How would you spend $50,000? Have you ever played Hitman? (I LOVE that game!)

See also: