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

Why Spend $50,000 to Shoot Things in Africa - picture of African trees with Mount Kilimanjaro in background

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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 NYMag.com. “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!)

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  1. I’m with you Holly. A supposedly well educated professional thinks it’s OK to shoot a magnificent creature, just because he paid $50,000? He ought to be made to eat the entire animal. Same thing for every other trophy hunter out there. You shoot it. You eat it.

    I understand a number of airlines are now banning the transportation of animal trophies so perhaps the number of people opting for this kind of entertainment will seriously diminish. Let’s hope so.

    Meanwhile, I could translate that $50k into the trip of a lifetime without the need for trophies… except maybe some nice Italian leather shoes. 🙂

    1. I could turn 50K into a lifetime of awesome trips! And I did read that about airlines. That sounds like a smart move considering all the outrage.

  2. Yeah, that guy is a coward, as are his ilk. I could definitely think of better ways to blow 50 grand, and they all involve travel and food, and drinks..The closest l would get to the great beasts would be on a safari :-). I’m a Leo and l especially hate people that kill lions :-(. I’ve never played Hitman, but the movie is one of my top 20 favourite movies. I watch it an average of like once a month.

  3. I have extended family that does these hunts and posts photos on Facebook. And right now they are up in arms saying that we should care about murdered babies (abortion) more than these hunts. You know what? Don’t tell me what to care about! I care about both, thankyouverymuch, and I’m allowed to.

    They spend the money, though, just to show it off. I wonder what they’ll have left for retirement, though…

    1. I’ve seen posts like that too. The thing is, it’s perfectly reasonable to care about both issues, plus any other issues that hit close to home. People are nuts.

  4. I don’t get it either but I know lots of people who work as outfitters here in Colorado who hold the hands of rich people who want to shoot elk, bears, coyotes, etc. My brother in law actually paid thousands to spend a week in Utah and kill an elk to hang on his wall. I guys it’s legal and his money to spend. Really creepy to be in his basement with all those dead animals though!

    I can’t even kill the rodent prairie dogs that tear up our yard, but I do realize hunting is big business. It brings more revenue to Colorado than all skiing and recreation combined and I can only imagine how much it brings in to a poor African country. I could not do it but appreciate those hunters who do hunt for food and don’t have a chauffeured ATV to drive their fat butts around. I think it’s awful to shoot endangered wild animals just for kicks but I’m sure many hunters would disagree with me.

    1. Hunting for food doesn’t bother me. That’s the way nature is set up. But the flying to foreign countries and paying huge dollar figures to get a lion’s head or whatever gets old.

  5. Vacation is the first thing that came to my mind as well. I would find a nice resort and then pay for all of our friends to come along for a week or two.

  6. I can think of 50,000 ways I’d spend $50,000 and none of them include shooting anything.
    However, my husband loves to (legally) hunt for deer during our hunting season. He actually enjoys getting up at the crack of dawn to sit in the freezing cold dark woods. I don’t get it!

    1. Nothing wrong with that. I’m sure he puts every part of the animal to good use.

  7. Yeah I REALLY don’t get that. I’m not a huge animal lover by any means, but that whole thing makes me feel seriously ill. If I had $50,000 to spare and my house was already paid off and my kids’ college funds were in order, I would totally put most of it into retirement and then probably spend $10,000 to take a nice trip somewhere 🙂

  8. Oh Holly…there are some things I would rather not know. Mr. Crackin’ and I have never been hunting and it’s not likely we ever will. Hell, I don’t know that we could if someone outfitted us up and put the gear in our hands. I do know we would consume every last bit if we did. Wait, who am I kidding?! I can’t kill a creepy crawly critter on my own! It makes me too sad.

    As for a windfall…I guess we’d keep on keepin’ on.

  9. This story is so sad, but your article about it gave me a laugh. I’ve never heard of Hitman, but it sounds like I’m missing out!! I can’t believe nobody suggested that to Dr Palmer before he went off to Africa to waste $50k and descend into infamy! Somebody really could have done that guy a favor if they’d just handed him a PS-2 and suggested that he go sip some Mai Tais in the Maldives. Sounds pretty awesome to me!

  10. I actually know a lot of people who would happily drop that kind of coin on a hunt. My brother-in-law’s brother is an oil salesman, and when his team beat their goal by $5M dollars, they got to take an all expense paid trip anywhere. They chose an an elk hunt which cost around $20K per person. I guess the ranch they stayed at was pretty luxurious, and handicap accessible (important because he only has one leg), but they weren’t even guaranteed an elk.

    People who love to hunt, really love to hunt. Money is no object.

  11. I’m with you on this and was thinking the same as you. What a total waste of $50K! And that probably doesn’t include airfare and hotel stay. It’s weird that people get their jollies from killing majestic animals. I’m sure there are other hobbies that are thrilling which don’t require killing animals and don’t cost $50k. I’d probably invest most of the $50k and take some to take a vacation.

  12. It’s always interesting to me to see the difference in opinion on what is “a lot” of money to someone once they actually have a good deal of surplus. I’d like to think that no matter what happened in my life, I wouldn’t drop 50k all in one place for anything other than a home or education – maybe a really grand trip or experience I could share with my loved ones. But this story made me sad and I can’t imagine how it makes those who are scraping by feel.

  13. Yeah, this whole story about the lion shooting was so baffling. I can think of SO many better ways to spend $50k. How about investing it so that you can retire earlier? Or taking a trip around the world, instead of just seeing lion carcasses?

  14. I don’t understand why some people think killing an innocent animal for fun is OK. If you’re hunting to get food to survive, I get that…but to kill for fun? Come on, there are more interesting/thrilling stuff you can do. And to spend $50k? Agreed that there are way better ways to spend $50k.

  15. I was wondering when someone would write about this. It’s beyond comprehension for me. Why not buy a sportscar if you really need to prove your manhood? Imagine how far 50k would go helping build a school in africa, or one million other “good” things in life?

    1. I know, right? I also have to roll my eyes when hunting is all wrapped into the conservation argument. All I hear is, “LET’s KEEP BIG GAME ALIVE SO WE CAN SHOOT THEM!”

  16. I have a friend who is an extreme mountain climber. She recently shelled out $200k (about a quarter of her own money and the rest from sponsors and crowd funding) to climb Mt. Everest two years ago. When I read her numbers and the budget she had set up, I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t enough to just go see the mountain, she had to go conquer it. And when she wasn’t able to succeed, she attempted to “save up” again. I get the idea of a thrill and how you want to be that one person someone knows and can talk about. It still makes me shake my head. Recognition, power, and even experience isn’t worth that kind of spending.

    1. Wow! I wonder if she’ll ever look back and wish she hadn’t spent that money. Unreal!

  17. Whoa, that is a crazy amount of money for, let’s face it, kind of a scummy activity.

    Is it wrong for me to take pleasure in him wasting money like that? It’s not a proper punishment, but it’s nice to think his wallet is $50k lighter…

  18. I am not a hunter and would never spend $50k for something like hunting a lion. We are cat lovers, which is another reason it would not work for me. However, I am a meat eater and that food in the grocery store does come from somewhere. I have a lot of hunter friends that eat what they kill. I have no argument with hunting for those reasons as long it is legal and in season.

    On a more positive note: If $50k dropped into my bank account right now – we would take a 100 day around the cruise for two next year!

  19. I’m not going to share my opinion about him shooting that animal, but I am going to say I sure could have put that $50k to much better use: paying off debt, funding my emergency fund, and doing a few home improvement projects that have been on my list for quite a while now.

  20. Seriously with $50000 you can do a lot of things for exampl I could buy a flat as investment or tavel a lot, but being a animal lover is impossible spend this amount for kill a animal, seriously I hope that this man have giant healt problems, I try to have gentle word for anyone but for him I don’t have nothing apart very bad words!!!

  21. I know a lot of people who love to hunt. It is something they enjoy doing just as others enjoy golf, travel or sipping Mojitos by the beach. Hunting IS legal! If you do not come from a hunting family you just don’t get it and I guess I don’t expect you to. A family friend of ours has made several such trips to various countries. He is in his 70’s, the kindest person you will ever meet, articulate and well-educated, soft spoken, a wonderful, husband, father and grandfather and LOVES hunting big game. Who are we to judge him as a person when he is spending HIS own hard earned money to do what HE enjoys when it is perfectly legal. I love listening to his stories! And yes, he has PLENTY (and then some)saved for a fabulous retirement!

    1. Sorry, but I’m perfectly fine judging someone whose hobby is killing stuff. Here’s the truth: some hobbies are more valid than others. Hunting to eat? I get that. Hunting to kill something? All I can think is that you probably have a small penis.

      1. Holly how do you know that’s a man commenting? Sabrina Corgatelli is the worst of these hunters and she doesn’t even have a penis LOL. I agree though, there are better hobbies than killing harmless giraffes. But people like Sabrina don’t care. They just like to earn “trophies” of death. I think it’s some kind of addiction.

        1. Good point! =) Yeah, I have no idea what would motivate a woman to do such a thing as a hobby. Daddy issues?

  22. Someone I know is really into (legal) hunting. He told me once that there are hunters out there who kill for the thrill, fun and bragging. There are exclusive hunting circles that do some legal hunting but their main goal is to go after the ”Big 5” in hunting which is to kill the 5 dangerous game in Africa (Rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard). FOR BRAGGING ONLY. WTF is wrong with people. I don’t know for sure thats what his plan was but why else would one kill a lion?

    side note: I just googled before I submitted this comment to make sure I got the animals right and that i’m not a dumb ass and wikipedia confirms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_five_game

  23. Paying $50,000 to hunt an animal is the last thing I would do. I don’t even like guns. That $50,000 would go towards debt and an investment.

  24. Unfortunately(?) I don’t think $50k is much to a dentist. But yes, how could you spend it on shooting a lion? Unreal!

  25. You are so right! I don’t get it. One, I don’t understand the urge to kill, especially when you don’t eat it. Two, for $50,000? Are you kidding me? This guy also has a home in Florida. Dentists make more than I thought! We are in the wrong business!

  26. I don’t get why anyone would want to do this. Taking pictures afterwards with a smile on your face is disgusting as well.

  27. It really does feel like he has too much money on his hands.

    But, killing the GIRAFFE by that one woman is even more distrubing.

  28. I DEFINITELY could find a million other ways to spend $50,000. I think I’d fund my kids 529 plans and solidify their future college educations. That would be great relief and a wonderful way to use $50K

  29. So there IS actually a video game where you can shoot wild animals — its called Big Game Hunter. It became my husband’s favorite when he worked in a very, very slow restaurant. 😉

    But seriously — $50k? I’d probably choose to pay off my student loans. Imagining that I didn’t have any “practical” purpose for that money, I’m with you on the fancy trip, except I’ll take bottomless margaritas.

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