WASHINGTON — Regular panhandler Willie Jones is used to receiving spare change from Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner. But yesterday he was shocked when Geithner handed him the nation’s new trillion-dollar coin – and Jones instantly became the richest man in the world.
“At first I thought Geithner stuck me with a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin,” Jones said, at a press conference. “It looks very similar.”
But then Jones took a closer look. “The coin said, ‘One Trillion Dollars’ on it. I almost keeled over.”
The platinum coin is being considered as a way to avoid an impending fight over the debt ceiling.
Geithner said it was a mistake, and asked Jones for the coin back. Jones refused.
“I kept the trillion dollar coin in my pants pocket with my other change,” the Secretary said.” I didn’t want to draw attention to it.”
Geithner meant to give Jones a quarter, like he does most days, but gave him the new platinum coin by mistake.
“We have some left over change from the stimulus program,” Geithner said. “The President directed us to give it away, so each morning, I hand Willie a coin.”
Ironically, the coin is a prototype, not even in official circulation yet. But US law states that once minted, all US currency retains the value inscribed upon it.
Geitner summed up President Barack Obama’s mood when he informed him about the trillion-dollar mishap.
“He wasn’t happy,” Geithner said. “Let’s put it this way,” he added. “If I wasn’t leaving this job soon, I’d be leaving this job soon.”
Conservative talk show hosts are having a field day, dubbing it “Obama’s Trillion-Dollar Hand-Out.”
Jones, meanwhile, is finding out that there’s not much he can do with his newfound riches.
“I try to buy something, but nobody can ‘break a trillion,” he lamented.