It began with a challenge from Groupon’s founder, Andrew Mason – could you live off Groupons for an entire year?
The premise is simple: No cash. The Groupawn (customer chosen to Live Off Groupon) has nothing but a year’s supply of Groupons good for the best things to eat, do, see and buy across the country. From skydiving and upscale cuisine to body waxing and foreign language classes, Groupon deals will shape the Groupawn’s daily life. He will need to rely on the kindness of strangers for social niceties (like tax and tip) and basic human needs (like somewhere to sleep and a ride to any of Groupon’s 60 cities.)
The entry page warned, “Who shouldn’t apply!? Probably everyone shouldn’t apply. We want to be honest from the beginning: this will be a catastrophic disruption to your life. But you will have zero expenses for a year. You’ll get to travel across the country trying all the cool stuff we feature on Groupon. And you might get $100,000…in money.”
Hundreds applied with videos and essays touting their abilities to succeed on the open road. We narrowed it down to six finalists, including a butcher from Colorado, and a girl from Cleveland Heights who swore she used to be George Costanza’s doppleganger.
But Josh Stevens stood out from the pack, displaying creativity and a will to do anything (like hitching a ride on a mail truck during the semifinal interviews in Chicago.) We confiscated his wallet, sublet his apartment and put his belongings in storage. He is ours.
Josh began his journey on May 10, 2010 – if he lasts until May 10, 2011, he will earn $100,000.
- NO CASH
- Only five people allowed to visit Josh once during one year
- No overnight visits from friends/family
- No care packages unless approved by Groupon
- No performing jobs for goods or money
- Bartering Groupons for goods or services is allowed
- Must be an exemplary Groupon customer at all times / polite, excellent tipper
Josh Stevens is a 28 year old man from Chicago, Illinois, who applied for Live Off Groupon in between applying for grad school. He sports two arms, two legs, a lot of height and a jolly demeanor. He considers himself a foodie, a night owl and a Rockband enthusiast, but above all else, he is the Groupawn.
- So, is this real?
- What about the essentials – will Josh always have food and shelter?
- Josh has been provided with an unlimited supply of Groupons, including Groupons that provide food and shelter (restaurants and hotels). Think of it this way, Live Off Groupon at its worst is still better than life 1,000 years ago at its best.
- Ok seriously, how much does this disrupt his daily life?
- Josh left his current life behind, including friends, loved ones and the familiar. He will not be home on holidays, he will not see his mom if he gets sick, and he will miss all personal milestones including birthdays, graduations and random family weddings.
- How long is one year in Live Off Groupon terms?
- 365 days.
- Doesn’t Josh have a girlfriend?
- Yes, and he’s been warned it’s going to be a huge strain on his relationship. We will not allow his girlfriend, Girlpawn, to mooch off of his Groupons. They won’t be sleeping in the same place either. The warning on the entry page was clear: “WE WILL NOT FEEL BAD IF THIS DESTROYS YOUR RELATIONSHIP!”
- How will he get around?
- We have great transportation sponsors – Blue Groundways and Megabus. Josh can also hitchhike, bum rides with friends and Groupon community members, etc.
- Can Josh crash on someone’s couch?
- It’s allowed, but Groupon accepts none of the fault if he chooses to couchsurf and wind up in an awkward (or dangerous) situation. Common sense is highly encouraged.
- This seems crazy. What happens if Josh injured or killed while trying to Live Off Groupons?
- How is he going to get injured or killed eating sushi and getting his nails done? Anyway, if Josh manages to find a way to get himself injured or killed or he has a nervous breakdown or whatever, we obviously aren’t responsible – by being chosen for this challenge, Josh relinquished his right to sue Groupon for any reason ever for the rest of his life and in death.
- Where’s all the fine print?
- Josh and Groupon came to a mutually beneficial agreement. It’s pretty straightforward: work with us to go to cities where we have supplied Groupons, use Groupons, last 365 days, earn $100,000.