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Lifestyles of the Rich and the Homeless

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 by

Since moving into our new office located in Houston, we have had many experiences with the homeless. I personally had a homeless man charge at me screaming. “It was you, it was you, f*** the man!” I was ready to gator whoop him if necessary, but luckily it did not have to come to that. Just a few weeks ago we were so privileged to have an artistic bum use our restroom facilities. His medium of choice proved to be feces, with the canvas being the walls, mirrors, door, and even our ceiling!

The homeless problem isn’t just around the HostGator building. It seems that anywhere I travel to in Houston, there is a homeless man begging for money nearby.

Anytime I look out my window I can see at least one or two bums working the street. I’ve been watching the same faces work the same corner for over a year now. Being the business man that I am, it was impossible to look at them without wondering how much money they were making. I asked around… I read a bunch of websites… and all I could find was meaningless statistics without any real field testing being done.

So I did the only thing that any self respecting CEO would do. I became homeless myself.

The experiment was setup so that each day of the week a different popular homeless slogan would be advertised.

Here are the results of our study.

Bum deployed: Brent Oxley, CEO of HostGator
Day of week: Monday
Time in the field: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Slogan: “We need our flea shots anything helps”
Earnings for the day: $26.40
Hourly Wage: $13.20

Brent’s Experience: I prepared for being a bum by stealing my mom’s German Shepherd named Hawkmoon, not shaving for a week, and rolling us both around in dirt. I knew being a bum was serious business, and if I was going to compete with guys who were doing it for years, I would need to bring my game face. Upon stepping out onto the corner, I was instantly being evaluated by a homeless man the area knows as “dumpster dan”. He received this nick name after he took up residence in our building’s dumpster and started a fire. (Years before we owned the building)

I decided to ignore Dan and began to make my rounds. When the light turned red I walked along side the cars holding hawk moon, and my sign that read, “We need our flea shots anything helps.” Within minutes people began putting money in my trusty plastic cup. It seemed almost every person that gave me money said something about the money being for the dog and not me! I have never felt so unloved before. I had a lot of people asking me questions. Why don’t you go to this shelter… Why don’t you have a job. Etc. If only they knew I was the owner of a multi-million dollar company! I responded to one guy who asked, with “I do have a job” and he in turn responded with “so you’re out here hussling huh?” before driving off. I had about 15 middle aged women and one man roll down their window to give me money. Most of the people gave a buck and some change, with my highest payment being $3.00. It was pretty obvious that most of the people giving me money made less per hour then I was making bumming! I don’t believe I received money from a single car that would be considered worth more than average.

Being a bum was a very depressing experience for me! The highlight of my day was when a car with a few kids in the backseat were looking at Hawkmoon. I picked up her paw and started waiving at them, and they all started smiling and laughing. That concludes my bumming experience.

Bum deployed: Chris A. Lvl1 Chat tech
Day of week: Tuesday
Time in the field: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Slogan: “My Ex Wife had a better lawyer. Homeless now”
Earnings for the day: $6.60
Hourly Wage: $3.30

Chris’s Exprience: The dog day went pretty well with the women so we decided to try a sign that might appeal more to the men. If you’re a woman reading this please don’t be offended. The sign was a bad joke in an attempt to get the men to open their wallets. We were able to get 6 times more men to donate, but it was at the expense of losing 100% of the female demographic. The majority of the women who read Chris’s sign were PISSED, and instead of giving money all he got was death stares. Dumpster Dan was out in full force this day with one car actually giving both Chris and Dan two dollars to split.

Bum deployed: Chris A. Lvl1 Chat tech
Day of week: Wednesday
Time in the field: 5:10pm-6:50pm
Slogan: “Ninjas killed my family need money for kung fu lessons”
Earnings for the day: $22.75
Hourly Wage: $13.65

Chris’s Exprience: I’m sure most people have seen a picture of this homeless sign on the internet at some point or another. This sign had everyone laughing, and in exchange for the laughs the money rolled in. With $13.65 an hour being made, it turned out to be the second highest pay day of our experiment. It was about 50/50 split of middle aged men and women donating. A few people asked what happened to the family and Chris responded with, “We went on vacation to Thailand, took a private scuba driving trip and got ambushed by ninja pirates.”

Bum deployed: Chris A. Lvl1 Chat tech
Day of week: Thursday
Time in the field: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Slogan: “Why lie need a beer”
Earnings for the day: $20.30 in cash and 5 beers
Hourly Wage: $10.15

Chris’s Exprience: This was the only sign that got any teenagers / college kids to donate. No middle aged women donated, but their were two college girls that did. It was pretty evenly split between the older guys and the younger college crowd donating. The reaction was pretty much a, “hell yeh get drunk” response from everyone. On top of all the money made, five different cars gave a beer for a payment! A real homeless person that was in a wheelchair came up and took one of the donated beers from Chris’s pile

Bum deployed: Chris A. Lvl1 Chat tech
Day of week: Friday
Time in the field: 5:50pm-7:15pm
Prop: Wheelchair
Earnings for the day: $33.42
Hourly Wage: $23.59

Chris’s Exprience: Being in the wheelchair received the most sympathetic reactions. It was about a 50/50 split between men and women donations. There was an incident where a teenage boy caught HostGator Lance wheeling Chris into position. The teenage boy started screaming that it was all a fake setup!


We made OVER DOUBLE the minimum wage of $5.85 almost every single day of the experiment, and best of all it was TAX FREE!

Summary of how much was made each day:

Dog day: $13.20/hr
Exwife day: $3.30/hr
Ninjas day: $13.65/hr
Beer day: $10.15/hr + 5 beers valued at say 72 cents beer = $11.95/hr
Wheelchair day: $23.59/hr

How much would that be a year working 40 hours a week:

Dog day: $27,456
Exwife day: $6,864
Ninjas day: $28,392
Beer day: $24,856
Wheelchair day: $49,067

Homeless people do not pay taxes. If they did pay taxes, this is what the above salaries would look like on what they’re taking home:

Dog day: $31,574.40
Exwife day: $7,550.40
Ninjas day: $32,650.80
Beer day: $28,584.40
Wheelchair day: $61,333.75

In 2006 the poverty line for a single person under 65 was $10,488 dollars. So we definitely wouldn’t be considered homeless based off of what we earned. In fact, we would be making more money then most college graduates!

According to
The average college graduate made the below salary for each field:

Information sciences and systems: $47,182
Economics/finance: $44,588
Civil engineering: $46,084
Chemical engineering: $56,269
Accounting: $44,928
Business administration/management: $41,155
History: $33,071
Mechanical engineering: $51,732
Electrical engineering: $53,500
Psychology: $30,369
Computer science: $50,744
Political science and government: $33,094
English: $31,385
Sociology: $31,096

It’s no wonder we have so many homeless people in Houston! All you need to do is sit in a wheelchair and pretend to be homeless to make more than almost any college graduate! If anyone ever tells you you’re going to be homeless, just counter that with, “if I were, I would be making more than a college graduate!”

I’m sure many will argue since we only worked from 5 to 7 that the numbers are going to be inflated. Here’s a few facts to consider:

We picked the closest road to our office. Like most things in life bumming is all about location. This is what we made at our first and only location! I’d imagine with some road testing a bum could easily double the income we made.

The road we used receives most of the traffic in the morning due to people heading downtown to work. Our study took place during the evening which means the road wasn’t that busy due to most people heading home on the other side of the freeway.

About half the time we were bumming there was another bum working the same street corner. One bum on a corner = more money.

Neither Chris or I accepted any money from people we know.

I apologize if this blog post has offended you. It was meant to be educational and give you a better insight on the true financials of homeless people. There are a lot of sick people out there that will rip off your generosity as much as they can. If you truly want to help the homeless don’t give them cash or beer. Do you think they are making a daily deposit at their local bank? Unless they are a fake homeless person, I highly doubt they do this! If you feel they truly need help, get them food, water, or clothes. Heck get them a tent if you’re feeling like Santa Claus.

The only two legitimate reasons I can think of to be homeless are:

If you’re truly crazy the chance of finding a job is slim. Most of the homeless crazies have gone insane from drug abuse. If you give them money they’re most likely going to use it on more drugs.

You’re too sick to move in which case you wouldn’t be able to move to collect the money.

There are 10’s of thousands of hardworking Americans that work from wheelchairs every day. If you’re strong enough to push yourself around taking money all day you’re strong enough to work a desk job!

Bumming may sound like a pretty sweat deal but with the high income salary comes a few cons:

You can be seriously injured in a bum turf war.
You can be beat up by one of those psychos out there that prey on the homeless.
You could be hit by a car at any time.
A friend or family member could drive by and see you. This actually happened to Chris one day. A friend of his family said, “Chris are you homeless?”
You have to deal with yourself being a leech on society.

Not everybody is cut out to be a bum. Our first bum was our Chat Tech Sean. We had to fire him shortly after his first session. (Don’t worry, he’s still a chat tech) I gave Sean many tips on how to be a bum, but for whatever reason he could not follow my directions. I told him half a dozen times that he had to hold the signs towards the cars, unfortunately this proved to be too complicated for him. That, or he couldn’t handle the heat, because almost everytime I went to check on him he was sitting down in the shade somewhere. Our numbers could not be accurate if he wasn’t working the street, so we had no choice but to replace Sean. When I asked him about his experience, he said that dumpster Dan kept “mumbling gibberish at him”, which made him very nervous.

We were offered many jobs during the experiment. Sean received a strange one. A woman wanted to pay him to live in her shed, and be her gardener. Sean politely declined the position, but the woman would not take no for an answer. She circled around three different times, harrassing him to live in her shed.

I’m sure that many of you are going to be upset about us tricking people into giving us money. But before you get upset please be aware that all of the money we made, $109.47, is being donated to the local soup kitchen. On top of that we’re going to continue this experiment with a test. We are going to drive around town offering bums the choice between a one dollar bill and two beers. The first bum that chooses the dollar bill is going to be given an additional $109 dollars and 47 cents courtesy of HostGator. I’m curious to see how many stops we will make before the money is chosen. We’ll be sure to update this post with the results of the next test!

  • Ben
    28 November 2007 at 4:11 am

    Ahahahahhaha, hilarious!

  • The Paper Bag Man
    28 November 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Don’t give the bum $109, he will be suspected of stealing money when he did not :)

    On another note, I’m amaze of the results you gather.

    Thanks for the good test M. Oxley.

  • Doug
    28 November 2007 at 10:29 pm

    Wow, this is a new one. Pretty funny, though!

  • Cola
    28 November 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Good experiment! I don’t like your last idea to offer two beers and a dollar, though; the savvy homeless guys will take the beers and sell them for more than a dollar.

  • Ryan
    28 November 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Do you think the fact that you don’t look homeless may have caused an inflation in the amount of money you recieved?

  • Jasper
    29 November 2007 at 12:12 am

    Great read! And made me wonder, how old is the CEO of HG? You seem young, and my God you did a good job there :)

  • Tina Peters
    29 November 2007 at 12:38 am

    You’re figures are flawed. You didn’t take into consideration that inclement weather greatly affects how many hours they can “work” per week.

    I could throw in a bunch of hard facts that show the skewed perception of your story. But, it is a cute story and very amusing so I’ll leave it at that.

  • Robin
    29 November 2007 at 12:46 am

    That is pretty cool. I don’t know if I could have pretended to be bum either, I would have been very nervous too like Sean :)

  • palmer
    29 November 2007 at 1:06 am

    This ignores about a million crucial aspects of why there is homelessness. Also, I don’t like the utter contempt in the undercurrent of this. It’s just subtly propagating hatred for people our society has swept under the rug.

  • Atle Samuelsen
    29 November 2007 at 2:50 am

    Fucking cool experiment! This only prooves homeless do have more money then they claim ;)


  • Mike Bailey
    29 November 2007 at 4:37 am

    I’m pretty sure every major datacenter is in a part of town that has a lot of homeless people.

    Great experiment. I should try this, looks like you guys cleaned up well.

  • Chris
    29 November 2007 at 7:03 am

    I have to agree with palmer here.
    Initially, it was an interesting read. But you certainly aren’t enlightening anyone on anything near the true economics of homelessness. You;d be surprised at the costs of being homeless.

    And the baseless contempt you seem to have is pretty clear. For example, the immediate assumption that homeless crazies have injured themselves with drugs.

    I’m a tech guy, but I’ve worked with homeless people and I have an interest in mental health.
    The health studies in my area show that most, in fact nearly all, of the local homeless crazies suffer from schizophrenia. True, this is often (and not always) exacabated with drug use, but in most cases the mental health issues precede the drug use. Poor mental health has a huge role to play in homelessness.

    Try this as a thought excercise. Imagine what you would do if you sufferred from a common co-morbidity: schizophrenia, depression and social anxiety.

    Now imagine that you don’t actually know what these are while you have them. How do you ask for help, or work on the problem when you don’t understand it’s parameters? Also imagine that you don’t have a support network.
    Can you see how screwed up the situation can get for you?

    I’m also talking as a now-successful person who has had mental health problems.

    Good on you guys for being successful. It’s great that you’ve worked hard to create your own success. Society needs people like you.
    But why use your position to mock people who didn’t make it? Where is your heart?

    Brent: I challenge you to look into the actual causes of homelessness, and the relationship between mental health and homelessness.

  • Martha
    29 November 2007 at 7:37 am

    Great experiment. The calculated income is too vague (many factors which cannot be taken into account), but still very interesting.

  • ZioBrad
    29 November 2007 at 9:09 am

    I knew this a really long time ago, but it’s hilarious that you guys went and got some real numbers. I had a guy ask me for money outside of black friday (best buy) we went in and bought the entire bin of 4 GB SD Cards. Everyone was staring at us. People always asking for money in Los Angeles, in fact I probably spend 2 hours of my day trying to get away from homeless people they are like Zombies lmfao..

  • Andrew Schwartz
    29 November 2007 at 10:54 am

    I worked at a psychiatric crisis house for two years. I worked with people diagnosed with all sorts of psychiatric ailments. I worked with people who suffered from overuse of drugs.

    I also worked with some people who had been homeless.

    I’ll always remember the conversations I had with them. They told me all about their techniques. They told me all about their knowledge of the streets (which yielded the highest returns and when). They told me all about which stories worked best. And they told me what they did with the money. (Want to guess?)

    “My lord,” I remember thinking, “it is, indeed, a profession.”

    This is a good, good piece of work. Regardless the details of homelessness, or anyone’s psychological or political theories — you’ve made an excellent point.

    And perhaps those who disagree, which is fair, can take away this:

    If you want to make statements about the homeless, the least you can do, as a self-respecting person, is spend a decent amount of time in a close encounter with the reality you wish to describe. Not reading statistics in the New York Times, but actually spending the time in the field.

    That is what Brent and Chris have done.

    Do you have what it takes to do it yourself?

  • ref
    29 November 2007 at 10:55 am

    anyone foolish enough to seriously apply these numbers to anything realistic deserves to be homeless out of stupidity.

  • Brandon M.
    29 November 2007 at 11:09 am

    In response to Palmer… These people have in one time or another had a choice. Even now they can still find work, its not hard. They just need to go down to the job pool and wait for work like all the immigrants. There is also job placement programs that alot of shelters provide. I think Brent’s point is more to show that these people CHOOSE not to work because they are making more money panhandling on the street corner. Its pure laziness if you ask me.

    Its really ridiculous how Houston has become. When you can’t even go to a gas station without 1 or more bums asking you for money. Ive had bums get pissed off at me for telling them I did not have any money to give them. Frankly, that makes me quite a bit nervous. Who knows what these people are willing to do for their fix. Be it beer or drugs. You just may be that innocent person that gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    But honestly, if you want to fight a homeless problem, take away the drugs and alcohol. 98% of the time homeless people are that way because they have either had or have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

    In some cases they are homeless due to mental illness. But this also is usually caused by drug abuse.

    I feel that giving these people money is just fueling the problem. These people are not using the money for shelter or for clothes. I dont believe a homeless person you give 5$ to will go out and buy a toothbrush and toothpaste. These people stopped caring long ago. They are going to take that 5$ and go by alcohol or drugs. Plain and simple.

  • Chris
    29 November 2007 at 11:52 am

    You guys are located in a pretty bad area to begin with, no wonder you see bums all the time.

  • Dave C (
    29 November 2007 at 12:18 pm

    great study.

    If I get laid off ever I plan to get dressed nice and stand on the curbs asking for a job. BIG SIGN lol.

    way to go donating the money to a soup kitchen

  • RadioManCBS
    29 November 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Being homeless isn’t fun. I was there once many years ago as i was putting myself through my last 2 years of high school, (just before i joined the army). The main point i want to bring (and maybe something for you to add to your statistics) find out how many of the homeless served their country and are veterans. My guess is at least 50%-75% of them are! Depending on their individual situation, you would think the VA would help them out, but they don’t. The biggest way our government is screwing our soldiers is that the requirement in order to receive VA benefits (medical, etc) is to serve 24 months consecutive active duty. Even our Reservists & National Guardsmen are getting screwed as we speak. They serve in a combat zone dodging bullets for 23 months, Uncle Sam gives them a 30 day leave, (release from active duty), then after that 30 days re-activates them to active duty to pick up where they left off. I unfortunately fall into a similar category; (I was Honorably Discharged after 18 years). I am too in a situation to where I may be one of the homeless within the next few weeks, (no joke… i wish it was). I have exhausted all my resources at this point & unless i can pull a miracle out of my arse in the next 10 days, Florida will have one more homeless person to add to their census.

  • Ryan Paul
    29 November 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Dude… what you did was wrong.

    Offering a homeless person a dollar or two beers is wrong. Forget that stupid stunt – give them food. If they don’t want it, then move on to the next.

    Instead of using those less fortunate than yourself as social experiments, why not 1.09% of HG yearly profit to charity?

  • RadioManCBS
    29 November 2007 at 3:36 pm

    In response to Brandon M….
    I agree with Palmer, not all homeless people are lazy, drug addicts, alcoholics, or raving lunatics/ mentally challenged, (sometimes that occurs naturally from being homeless for so long). It is common and very easy for society to stereotype & place labels on people & situations… The worlds greatest Band-Aid. Stereotype them, throw a label on them & be done with it. Similar to the Family Court system. They (Family Court) doesn’t have the time or money to listen to each individual case despite how unique it may be. If they did, the dockets would be backlogged for years, so instead, stereotype them all, regardless of their individual situation… keep the line moving!! When you said people have a choice, you are absolutely right, we all have a choice. However, sometimes society makes the choice for us or limits our choices from which to choose from; therefore sometimes being homeless is better than hanging yourself. Have you noticed how the suicide rates have increased over the past 5 years? As far as finding work, when I moved to Florida a little more than 2 years ago (from Western New York- the tax capitol…lol), there were 5 jobs for every one person. Two years later, with the real estate, construction, & some industrial markets moving to a crawl, increase in oil prices, increase in cost of commodities, (groceries, everyday items, etc.) companies are cutting back and moving the majority of their employment force off shore, (India, Philippines, etc… that is why i lost my job…. gotta love outsourcing, a “Major Bank” that shall remain nameless). In those countries they pay them about $3.25/ hour, therefore the corporation saves money & the rich get richer… and the poor get poorer. I have found that there is currently one job for every 5 people now (Florida); the situation has become inverse of 2 years prior. The reason? people from very depressed states like Michigan, Ohio, New York, etc move to Florida because there is no state income tax and is less expensive to live than the aforementioned states where there is income tax and even less jobs. Fighting the homeless problem is not going to be resolved by prohibition of alcohol or drugs. That is another Band-Aid. Palmer is absolutely correct when he said that there are people that can’t be helped (via government, programs, etc.) because they “fall in the cracks”, due to finances, lack of, etc. or like my example of the VA in my previous post. I agree with you that some of the homelessness can be attributed to drug/alcohol abuse before & after becoming homeless, but not all. Ever consider how one becomes homeless? Drugs & alcohol aside, ever consider that maybe they were very successful at one time working for a major corporation, lost their job due to outsourcing, had their house foreclosed upon & other items repossessed one at a time and doesn’t have the financial means/ resources or support network needed to get into an apartment? Just a thought to consider. Here in Florida it takes no less than $3,000 to get into your own apartment (security deposit, utility deposit, first & last months rent, etc). Roommate situations aren’t much better, especially if you don’t have the financial means. As far as the signs the homeless carry around here, the majority of them say “will work for food” or “will do odd jobs cheap”. From a homeless point of view, sometimes a cold beer is nice to wash down your supper you just picked out of a dumpster.
    Brent- I commend you on your research, and your generosity. There need to be more open minded people like you in the world! Congratulations on your successful corporation!

  • Nick Nelson
    29 November 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Lots of flaws of course, however, they go both ways. Obviously this wasn’t a scientific study.

  • brent oxley
    29 November 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I doubt many of the people here posting have read the entire blog. We were only out there a few hours a day for a week. We received MANY job offers! The fact is based on the money we were given we made more money begging then working a minimum wage job.

    The homeless that can talk and aren’t crazy from drug abuse or natural causes are offered jobs ALL THE TIME. They choose not to work and the only way they will stop being homeless is if people stop giving them money. This will force them to get a real job.

    What helps a drug attic more? Giving them money or giving them support.

    As I said in the blog post if you want to help give them food, clothes, or a job. In the majority of cases by giving them money you are doing more harm then good.

    I gave money to a homeless person one time my whole life that didn’t do anything for it. He said he needed money for the bus and I said… “do you promise you aren’t going to walk over to a store to buy beer”. His answer was yes that he was going straight to the bus. I gave him three dollars, and then decided to follow him. A few feet before he was about to walk into the store to buy beer I got out of my vehicle and demanded my money back. I help people all the time, but only those who truly need it and are willing to fight for it.

    If you want to help a homeless person give them food, clothes, or even a job.
    Ryan by not looking homeless I believed it caused deflation is the amount of money received.
    Tina Peters we live in houston there’s very little weather that can’t be worked in. If this was done somewhere where it snows then I would agree with you completely. I have a feeling had we done this whole study in the rain we would have made even more money. Who would you want to help more a homeless person standing in the rain? Or a man standing in perfect weather?

    palmer I agree, but unfortunately not everything could be covered in a blog post. The blog post was about how much money we could make bumming, and that is what we shared. Had we not made any money and blogged about how little we made and how hard it was to do you most likely wouldn’t have objected. I truly want the homeless people helped, and giving them money isn’t the way. I believe soup kitchens and support centers are the best help for them. The crazy schizophrenic ones are a whole different story. I’m not sure what the best way to help them is but I do know cash isn’t going to be the answer.

    Chris it sounds like you were helping them the right way. Do you recommend giving them cash? Were your mental health problems solved from support or people feeling they don’t need to do anything because they slipped you a buck?

    ref I agree since if you read the blog post we probably could have made much more with different areas. I spoke to a cop the other day who says they arrest homeless people all the time for being intoxicated. I asked him if they arrest the sober ones and his response was no. He said a few of the ones they arrested were saying that the holidays was the best time of the year, and thats when they made double the money. Our experiment took place in October well before any holidays started. I’ll also be happy to setup a camera that monitors the traffic all day and you’ll see for yourself the time period in which we did it 5-7 is amongst the lowest traffic for the road we were on.

    RadioManCBS did you stand on the side of the road begging for money when you were homeless? This blog post is about the beggers not the ones willing to work. If you did how were you helped? Please send me an email to we can’t find the employees we need. We never stop hiring and have an impossible time filling the positions we have. Just the other day we fired a very knowledgeable employee. We had to fire him because he was only showing up to work 2 days out of his 5 scheduled days. He told employees here if he worked to many hours welfare would cut him off. It’s sickening how many people we lose do to getting handouts from the government. We have people that apply and get hired to only quit a day later to try and get unemployment all the time.

    Ryan Paul how is this wrong? Life is about choices. If they choose the beer well they get beer. If they choose the dollar they will be rewarded with over a $100 dollars. Either way it’s win win because they are getting something is it not?

  • Delbocagator
    29 November 2007 at 9:08 pm

    This was hilarious. I can’t believe that the CEO of the company would do that. It takes lots of courage and dedication.

  • Luis Aguilar
    29 November 2007 at 10:50 pm

    This was a great experiment, I’m sure that in my 12 hour shift/ 12 $ an hour shift, I’ll come up with some ideas to spice up the experiment. Now, this blog is bookmarked!

    (I’m thinking into becoming a bum)…seriously… :P

  • goddess_dix
    30 November 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Saw a news special once on this. They showed people pretending to be homeless, and the people claiming to be vets made the most money. However, because of PTSD and other issues, I’ve no doubt there are lots of vets that are in these categories.

    I’ve worked with the mentally ill and homeless before and it’s a mix. Many homeless are mentally ill (and you can’t always see people’s mental issues driving by in a car or talking to them for 30 seconds). Many are addicts, whether they started out that way or not. Many just don’t want to work and/or feel like the world owes them something.

    I don’t give cash to the homeless. Sometimes I donate to organizations that help people in various types of need. Actually, I don’t contribute a lot to org. that help homeless people because most of the ones i’ve met, I didn’t like. Addicts and scam artists abound. But I don’t judge them, either. I don’t know what in their lives brought them there, any more than I know if I had the same issues to contend with, where I would have ended up.

  • SnowyNolin
    2 December 2007 at 10:54 am

    I have given dumpster Dan and a few other bums on the exact street corner food several times. I agree with you, homeless shelters and soup kitchens are the way to go. I just cannot give them money for drugs and booze. BTW, Lydia and I had fun watching the HostGator employees at the paintball field!! Keep us posted.

  • Joe Jackson, Charlotte, NC
    2 December 2007 at 3:45 pm

    This reminds me of the lady in Phily who was found to be worth 1 million after someone tracked her down after a day of begging. Her props were her kids… she made tons of money… this was back in 94 or 95.

    But I agree with some that just because some homeless make some money that does not mean that all do or even if they can do anything with the amount of money they get. Most have mental issues that don’t help, so they have no real concept of money outside of getting something to eat.

  • SasaVtec
    2 December 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Wow this is too funny, I usually when I see a homeless person on the street usually in font of grocerry stores I give them a buck or two, but the tent idea is even better with one tent up to 4 homeless can sleep in there :).

  • Max Estrada
    2 December 2007 at 8:29 pm

    You guys must have been extra bored…..Or needed the cash.

  • StelStar1
    3 December 2007 at 12:01 am

    This would have really rocked your socks. While waiting at the train station in Washington, D.C. for my friend to get off from work at 5:00 p.m. so as to take me home from a trip home in 1991, I was feted to watching an obviously (maybe not) homeless couple.

    My train arrived at 11:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning which meant I had a few hours to observe my surroundings, shop, eat and read.

    I became intrigued by this couple as they were asking for money from everyone who came close to the train station’s entrance. Their story was always the same: we’re homeless, can you help?

    Since my wait was a long one I decided to park myself next to the entrance with a good book in hand in order to get a good look at what would transpire. I left only to get lunch and returned again to my perch around 2:30 p.m. after being away 1 hour.

    To make a long story somewhat shorter I was amazed at 5:30 that this couple had each gained a total of over $180 each for their day’s work. I sat nearby while they counted their many crumpled up bills and coins and was absolutely astounded at the amount of money they had.

    So friends, there are actually some people who “panhandle” for a living rather than take a job. They seem to make more money than a job, don’t pay taxes and can pay for far more than some people who work a steady job.


  • Ryan Paul
    3 December 2007 at 11:06 am

    Brent… the wrong thing about it is offering them beer.

    Whether or not they have the choice to accept alcohol… you’re not helping them? Non-alcoholic beer would be different. Alcohol just clouds their already clouded minds and puts them even further from getting themselves out of the situation they are in.

  • Jonathan
    5 December 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I only have one thing to say… this was an awesome post. Good show.

    J –

  • Leo
    8 December 2007 at 11:20 pm

    Would you help a homeless guy.. giving him a nice job in your company ? as you experiment show he would earn less working as an IT, but this homeless really like to be an IT guy… in fact he said he wrote a Red Book for a big and Blue Company… not sure if hi is crazy.. but I´m sure he is crazy for getting a nice IT job. The homeless guy know Java he like Linux but is not a hacker just a regular Linux user. Not sure I would be able to come back to see your reply, so please send me an e-mail.

  • Furkan
    9 December 2007 at 2:39 pm

    heheheheh good…


  • Mark
    10 December 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for conducting this little experiment and sharing the results. I knew from the get-go that people would be offended and whine about it in the comments. But the fact is you provided REAL answers to something that many people wonder about every day – “how much money could those bums really be making?” It may not look like much when you see that most cars pass by without even a glance – but the volume is high and the conversation ratio can still be relatively low for them to make more money than most wage slaves.

  • Ife
    10 December 2007 at 9:12 pm

    It also brings to mind that many of the homeless people in the US are children. You wouldn’t see them on the streets bumming change but I hope your philanthropy will extend to the innocents.

    Funny story, but don’t think you should give 109 to guys who may just use it for drugs. Please help those who really need it.

  • Nate
    11 December 2007 at 8:46 am

    I can’t say I am really thrilled with this idea. There was clearly an ideology at play in the design of the method.

    The follow up experiment is in my mind even more biased and demeaning. I am willing to bet if you did a similar experiment, by offering Hostgator employees a choice of a two beers or a dollar as they left work, the majority would take the beer. Surely that does not mean that Hostgator employees are lazy or drunks.

    Since Brent has shown a willingness to go pretty far in donating money to charity and in experimenting for publicity, how about this follow up instead. Start a collection on this blog for funds from readers, if the readers kick in more then some amount, 1,000 say, Brent will spend 72 hours as a homeless person, living only off what he can pan handle.

    Does it get harder to think of witty slogans after sleeping under a high way? Is it worth paying a dollar for sun screen? Which restaurant will serve someone who has not showered in a few days? How crazy are homeless people really?

    Lots of important questions, Brent could keep a video blog describing what he learns each day and the money for the dare could be donated to charity. I am sure it would be a big buzz generator, a great way for Brent to show how much cares, and a way for the Hostgator Blog readers to join in on the giving.

    I would seed the pot with $50.

  • michael davies
    12 December 2007 at 12:06 am

    Just wanted to put in some in put to what your doing, well one thing is homelessness is not just about money,some are sick some dont care, some are lonely, some just have no one or no place to go or any one to talk to so they live the way they live because its the way people in our so called world has push them to this, yes the homeless gets money but what good is one dollar or a thousand dallars if you still cant use it to the good because once labled as homeless thats what you are.
    tell me you went out to protray or to do a suevey on beingg homeless there is a diffrence homeless and a bum are two diffrent thing. why your doing your survey did you do it right go all the way, live like one completely, no money, no friends, dirty, then go out there and i mean live that way that means no id. see where you eat, see where you sleep, try to go in to a restorant and eat. or rent a motel, or rent a apt. you need to do your survey the right way, I know i was homeless for seven years and now i manage a home for the homeless. till you do your survey you should look and learn everything befor you pass judgement or say any thing. because it is not about money.
    so il close now and god be with us all.

    mike davies

  • Theresa McBryan
    14 December 2007 at 6:36 am

    You guys all look way too young, clean and well nourished to pass for street people in my part of the world.(Canada) There are a few young panhandlers, usually pretty gaunt and wasted looking, with lots of tattoos and piercings but the majority are pushing fifty and a disproportionate number are aboriginal.

    They really are not all that employable, especially for work that lasts long enough to accumulate a big enough surplus to rent an apartment. You guys look more like my sons who gross $100,000 per. I’m not surprised people were offering you jobs. If most of the panhandlers in Huston look like you I’m amazed. America is so rich it can afford to throw away people!

  • Joe Kinglsey
    18 February 2008 at 3:54 am

    For over 10 years I worked in a corner liquorstore in Chicago. You name it, I’ve see it and someting new every day. Next to the corner drug dealers and prostitutes, the panhandlers had to be the biggest problem. With an income doubling and tripling my hourly wage in most cases, their best tactics were usually intimidation to earn their coin. There was one guy who got beat up one day, and ended up in one of those neck braces that rests on your shoulders and actually bolts into your skull. People felt sorry for him and donated, sometimes generously. After about a year, I asked him “Isn’t your neck healed by now?” and he replied “Oh, yeah, it healed, it be good for bidness” Best one I heard all year.

  • yourmanstan
    20 February 2008 at 12:04 am

    good to see someone speak their mind! nice experiment too!

    I really don’t understand why people get offended by this post. compassion and hand-outs are NOT the same!

    when you give money to a business, you encourage that business to succeed. when you give money to pan handlers, you encourage them to continue roaming the streets. its not rocket science.

  • Damselfly
    17 March 2008 at 7:26 am

    A cold beer delivered to you on a hot day is worth more than $1.00.

  • Art
    9 June 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Haha, this is an excellent story! Thanks for the details and it amazing to know that they can make that much money being a bum.

    Brent, I when you get a moment, please email me, I got a question regarding one of your web sites.


  • Evita Dupoux
    27 April 2009 at 2:37 pm

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  • hardworker
    3 June 2009 at 7:33 pm

    This article was very amusing – your different approaches to trying to panhandle. Even though I’m a wife AND and ex-wife, the ex-wife one made me smile.
    I know one homeless person. From his circumstances I have formed an opinion about why people are homeless. I know my sample size is small (one) and statistically invalid, but I tend to form opinions based on personal experience and now what I hear from others.
    So here goes. My 25 year old son has been homeless for 5 months. He doesn’t want to work and he will admit that straight out. He says that he would rather sit around all day and do nothing, even if it means sleeping in the street, than work at a job. He is the laziest person I know. He gets free meals that various homeless service places and says “it would be impossible to be hungry in San Diego”. He is not ashamed or embarrassed at all to be taking handouts instead of supporting himself like a man, like a productive member of society. I have lost all respect I ever had for him. He’s a bum. I will not let him live with me because it makes me too angry to work hard all day, then come home to him sitting on his butt watching TV. (Also he is not above pawning my things for money and lying about it.)

  • joe
    11 June 2009 at 7:32 pm

    while it’s true that there are many people who are just scamming others when they panhandle .But there really are people who are in need and some are crazy not simply because of drug abuse but behind the drug habit there is usually a cause, sometimes too many bad things happen to a person and it can lead to substance abuse .

    There’s plenty of people in the world who have mental issues without having done drugs.Try not to impose unfair stereotypes on people .there are enough stigma associated with mental illness already.

  • Lisa
    6 August 2009 at 2:13 pm

    lol, HostGator is awesome!

  • Joe
    13 December 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t trust your #s on returns being scaled up that way.

    As a former homeless person I’ve seen a lot of other people who were just plain schizo or otherwise mentally handicapped and can’t really hold down a job.

    Personally, I never give them money, before it was because at barely over min wage I didn’t have any to spare. Now I make decent cash, but I’ll give them food, or offer to buy them some. I know when I was homeless that was priority #1.

    The only people I give money to on the street are buskers, who are not usually homeless… just broken and trying to do what they love.

  • Matt
    5 February 2010 at 4:33 pm

    You guys have guts. I give you that.

  • Bob
    6 February 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Man, I should quit my job and panhandle.
    Being homeless pays better.

  • Doug
    28 June 2010 at 1:16 pm

    So basically being a bum pays more then being a chat-tech at your company?

  • dogsinfo
    22 November 2010 at 1:31 am

    I have a website but it is very difficulty found on any search engine, I really need a way to increase my website rank or traffic on various search engines.

  • Caresse
    22 December 2010 at 5:01 am

    Fucking cool experiment!

  • F.U. Charlie
    19 March 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Getting to live in someone’s shed and being their gardener is any sane homeless person’s dream. That’s typically the first step OUT of being homeless.

  • Shannon Day
    9 April 2011 at 1:46 pm

    That is double the minimum wage!

  • Resa
    10 April 2011 at 8:16 am

    good stuff ;) really appreciated this post, i’m going to read more on the site soon after im finished with my work! ;)

  • Jambon
    6 May 2011 at 3:40 am

    ha, pussy. you should try one week.

    says an ex homeless man who was homeless for 2 years.

    all you people do not have a clue.

  • Youarenotfunny
    26 June 2011 at 12:15 am

    If you’re truly crazy the chance of finding a job is slim. Most of the homeless crazies have gone insane from drug abuse. If you give them money they’re most likely going to use it on more drugs.

    all people that are insane are from drugs?

    people, the Nazis first fed THEIR OWN MENTAL PATIENTS into the ovens, please check history, I find this BEYOND offensive, I find this down right psychopathic behavior….

    The fact you posed as a “bum” when you gross how much a year is sick, disrespectful, and again, you need help….

    I suppose it must be nice to sit and judge people all day, since you have nothing else to do OBVIOUSLY….

    My only wish sir is that you really have to be homeless, and get the chance to “get your numbers” accurately…….

    I am amazed at everything I am reading here…..I heard bad things recently about HostGator but I had no idea……

    • Youstillarenotfunny
      26 June 2011 at 12:23 am

      I should mention, the reason the nazis fed the mentally ill in the ovens was, wait for it…..”not economically viable, they produce nothing, therefore are leeches on productivity”

      sick, truly sick, and if any of the world war 2 vets seen this that fought for our freedoms……you need to grow up brent, you seriously do, this shows no wisdom or maturity on your part… sir are the one that needs help.

  • Tryinghardtobefunny
    26 June 2011 at 12:25 am

    I might also add since you seem to be so fond of running numbers, by your own study, your own figures here, are you saying you can make more as a bum in Houston then you pay your chat techs? Perhaps your chat techs should take heed and well, quit and become bums right? Do I understand this right?

  • Subash Poudel
    4 May 2012 at 5:35 am

    The images are not working.