Holy Crap, I may have actually won something!


If that graphic confuses you, read this and all will be explained.

OK, so it appears this contest might be real after all! Either that, or it's the most elaborate scam I've ever seen. I got an email from the guy who works for smallaa.com and we had a chat about all of the specifics.

Until the check clears, I'll remain skeptical, but for now, I'm a pretty happy guy, and this could be a great Christmas. And, of course, I have all of you to thank, especially all my regular readers and the kind (and crazy!) folks at playa.info, who I am sure did a ton of voting. I know that sounds like some pimperific rap music website, but it's really all about a city on the coast of the Caribbean called Playa del Carmen that I didn't even know about until recently, since I'm geography challenged and probably can't even name all the states on the edges of a U.S. map.

I stumbled on them recently because I noticed a lot of traffic coming from their site, but I never actually went there and checked it out until a few weeks ago. Sadly, I have to report that they all appear to have the same twisted sense of humor that I do. So... I stopped in the other night and asked them to help me out, and they were awesome. Check out the website and visit the forums, -- the whole place is really well done and full of great folks.

So thanks again to you all, and thanks to smallaa.com as well. Since he told me there's no restrictions on winning twice (as long as it's with a different post) I tossed up another couple of my favorites, if you're so inclined, so here's the JC Penny Part II. I figure I'd better get my licks in before someone with real writing chops blows me out of the water!

(I'm partial to "Artist Formerly Known As," myself.)

Whoo hoo!


  1. Anonymous6:28 PM

    Holy crap, I feel famous.

  2. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Dude. That would be so totally awesome if you won something good. Keanu would be proud.

    Off to vote for your other posts...

  3. Anonymous8:07 PM

    From one of the playa.info crazies, congratulations and you're welcome.

  4. Anonymous9:18 PM

    Damn, Johnny, I thought you were gonna sell my palapa!

    Seriously, way too cool if you really won the bucks and we'll be waiting "way down here" for ya.

  5. Cool, first time I voted for something that actually won! Woohoo!

  6. Anonymous9:53 PM

    Oh, we honeymooned in Playa -it's beautiful. You should take the wife with your newly acquired moolah; there are some nice all-inclusives.

    Too awesome that you won! I love knowing rich peoples.

  7. That's awesome!! Congrats!!

  8. Anonymous2:20 AM

    If you're still taking suggestions for a charity, might I suggest one of the many that send care packages of goodies to our troops? Check out http://www.moveamericaforward.com/ - cookies and coffee.

  9. Sweet, man. You deserve it!

  10. I voted for the winner? I am so excited for you- and for me, b/c god knows I need a little vicarious celebrity :)
    congrats- you rock :)

  11. Congrats! Glad I voted. :)

  12. As we say in Boston, "Wicked pissah." Glad you won. I feel like my vote actually mattered. Maybe. Whatever. I'm totally counting this as a Good Deed for the Holiday Season. All the best!

  13. I dunno, JV-- You definitely deserve it, but I have a hard time conceiving of a business model that enables them to give away 10 large weekly for a couple hundred votes.

    They're not underwritten by an ousted government official from Lagos, Nigeria, are they? Cuz next they'll be contacting you to say that they'd like to deposit the funds directly in your account... because they were told that you were a trustworthy and reliable partner.

  14. I signed up and voted for you. Found the site a bit confusing.

    Are you saying that they are telling you you won $10,000? That's, like, insane. I'm leaning toward Steve's Nigerian idea.

  15. Dear Sir, Please alow me to state that I am only actin on behead of the mINISTERo f Interior Finance for the MOst excellent Mr. Niromina, in charge of Olive production for the swet nation of Ublandi. We are to inform you that we will be selling off our stockpile of pitted black olives and need your to behave as a person to place the proceeds in an USA bank. For this service which you provide, we will be depositing an extra $10,000.00. Also be aWARE thazt a self-exam prostrate exam kit will be maile d to you on behalf of the head or our antions Minister of HEalth. Be pleased to follow the instructions and mail us the results...
    Your trustered servant

  16. You know what, I'm totally skeptical too. Here's what I did: He sent me a standard release form for use of my likeness and blog and posts as promotional material, it looked pretty boilerplate and it didn't seem like I was giving anything away. He sent me a blank W-9 and asked me to fill it out. I didn't want to give anyone my SSN, so I got an EIN from the IRS and JV Enterprises was born. I have a PO Box, so I used that address. That's it. He is sending me a cashier's check. If I put it in a new account, I'm not sure how anyone could run a scam on me. If any of you guys can conceive of some esoteric way to conduct a scam, please tell me now. I checked out the company on the web, and they've been hammering on places like digg and reddit, and trying to build awareness. I checked out the domain, it's been around since 2006, and the dns contact and registration info is consistent with the guy sending me the email. His name is Tim Lai and this all looks right:

    Smallaa, Inc
    Tim Lai
    800 W El Camino Real Suite 180
    Mountain View, CA 94040
    Email: tim.lai@smallaa.com

    Registrar Name....: REGISTER.COM, INC.
    Registrar Whois...: whois.register.com
    Registrar Homepage: www.register.com

    Domain Name: smallaa.com

    Created on..............: Thu, May 11, 2006
    Expires on..............: Sat, May 11, 2013
    Record last updated on..: Mon, Nov 10, 2008

    Administrative Contact:
    Smallaa, Inc
    Tim Lai
    800 W El Camino Real Suite 180
    Mountain View, CA 94040
    Phone: +1.6509432335
    Email: kinyang.lai@gmail.com

    Technical Contact:
    Domain Registrar
    575 8th Avenue
    New York, NY 10018
    Phone: +1.9027492701
    Email: domainregistrar@register.com

    If you google the company name there are even job postings for system engineers and programmers out there. I looked for any hits in the San Jose area Better Business Bureau and found nothing.

    I also asked some questions about marketing strategies and business models as they relate to user-provided content (e.g., youtube) and he spoke pretty knowledgeably about how that sort of business model works.

    So there's the story. If anyone has any other ideas of what I can do (short of hiring a detective) I'm all ears. I certainly don't want to get suckered into anything and then feel really, really stupid.

  17. Anonymous9:37 PM

    Awesome job. It's deserved - you've got strong material.

    After checking out smallaa.com, I posted a couple of links to just a few of my posts. I've already had some traffic from the site.

    I don't expect to win, but I can dream, can't I?

    Keep up the good work.

  18. Anonymous10:02 PM

    Wow! How exciting...when I voted the other night (right before midnight ET), I didn't see how you could NOT win, but still! Congrats...I'll be bummed if it turns out to be a scam...not as bummed as you, of course.

    Again...congrats! You deserve it!

  19. Sounds like you did much of your homework-- and good idea on the EIN and such.

    The only other thing that occurs to me is to see about a search of court records for California, in the event that would turn anything up. But I have to admit, it sounds more promising than it did at first.

    On a related note-- and it may sound premature-- but I wonder if there would be some feasibility in chatting with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property, or published material, or whatever. You deserve every bit of credit for your work, and it would be a shame to miss out on the rewards.

    Best of Luck!

  20. Anonymous1:41 AM

    Is it real did you receive the money?? I saw the site and was just curious.


  21. Not yet, but there is supposed to be a check waiting at the post office. I'll be picking it up tomorrow. We'll see if it clears, right?

  22. Anonymous4:10 PM

    ok:) keep us updated

  23. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Did the check clear?