The Oatmeal Raises A Load of Money Within Hours—Again

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 16 2012 4:35 PM

Is The Oatmeal the Internet’s Greatest Fundraiser?

The Oatmeal Creator Matthew Inman is really good at raising loads of money.

Randy Stewart (Wikimedia Commons)

Matthew Inman, the creator of the popular cartoon-filled website The Oatmeal, loves Nikola Tesla. In typical Inman style, a post on the site earlier this year explained in a series of cartoons, images, and text why the scientist who died in 1943 “was the greatest geek who ever lived”—even greater than Thomas Edison.

The claim wasn’t without controversy, despite its publication on a website that also features a cartoon titled “Pelvic Thrusting Cats.” A writer at Forbes took issue with Inman’s assertion that Tesla helped make alternating current practical, and with his claim that “the only thing that Thomas Edison pioneered was douchebaggery.” This led Inman to craft a detailed take-down of the Forbes article. (Speaking of which, Brow Beat takes no position on what Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison may or may not have invented.) 


A few months later and Inman is back, once again promoting Tesla’s legacy on The Oatmeal. Yesterday, Inman launched a campaign to “Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum.” The land that houses Tesla’s laboratory in Shoreham, N.Y., Inman explained, is up for sale, and a nonprofit is trying to buy the $1.6 million property and turn it into a Nikola Tesla Museum. The New York state government apparently awarded the nonprofit a grant that matches any money raised for the purchase, setting the mark at $800,000. To meet this funding goal—and surpass it, if possible, since they may have to outbid someone—Inman put out a call for contributions.

Within three hours and twenty minutes of the post appearing on The Oatmeal Inman tweeted that he had received $100,000 for the museum. As of this writing, more than $450,000 has been raised for the project. (About $50,000 was raised in the time it took me to get lunch.) A $25 donation gets you a glossy photo of Tesla; a $1000 donation gets you a Tesla-themed t-shirt, tote bag, and coffee mug—plus a poster signed by Tesla’s closest relative (William H. Terbo, Tesla’s grandnephew), and a bumper sticker that declares “Tesla > Edison.” So far 14 people have donated $1000. (Two have donated $2500 or more.)

This isn’t the first time Inman has used The Oatmeal to raise a Scrooge-McDuck-sized pile of money in a matter of hours. When Inman accused the website of stealing his and others’ cartoons, FunnyJunk’s lawyer demanded $20,000 for, among other ridiculous reasons, “publishing false statements about FunnyJunk.” In response, Inman said he’d try to raise $20,000 in donations, take a photo of the money, and mail it to the lawyer with a cartoon of the litigator’s mother seducing a Kodiak bear. The money would then be donated to the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. He raised $20,000 in 64 minutes—and more than $200,000 by the end of the campaign. FunnyJunk filed a lawsuit against Inman that was eventually dropped.     

Daniel Lametti is a Montreal-based writer and neuroscientist.



Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Can Democrats Keep Counting on Republicans to Offend Women as a Campaign Strategy?


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 19 2014 11:36 AM Breaking Up Countries Is Still Hard to Do
Business Insider
Sept. 19 2014 11:37 AM Why Urban Outfitters and Other Brands Troll Their Customers
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 19 2014 11:32 AM Why Do Pirates Talk Like That?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Sept. 19 2014 11:51 AM This Is All That’s Left of New York’s Once-Thriving Borscht Belt 
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 11:40 AM Apple Invented the Perfect Way to Handle Your Giant New Phone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM The Curious Incident of the Supernova in the Nighttime
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.