By: Adrian Smith
One seldom-mentioned but ever-curious question in life has finally been answered—what happens to the coins people toss into fountains? For years and years we’ve all made wishes, tossing loose change into fountains, praying something in those waters will turn our money into good fortune. Luckily, it seems if you’ve ever wished for a more charitable world, you’ve got just that.
New York City doesn’t keep a strict policy for thrown away change, and since their parks are governed by non-profit organizations, the money goes to them, or charity, when there’s enough of it. Homeless people usually cash in on the coins, though, before the fountains even get a chance to be cleaned.
Private fountains, like the one inside Minnesota’s Mall of America lets non profit organizations apply for a share of the $24,000 that gets collected from their fountains each year. And places like Disney Parks, Vegas casinos and Rainforest Cafés allow charities to collect the immense number of coins left in their fountains every year. Meanwhile, in Rome, throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain is something of tradition and ritual, which sees people toss their coins over their shoulders into the fountain backwards. The thousands of dollars tossed away daily fund a supermarket for the less fortunate.
But not all fountain treasure finds its way to charity. Roberto Cercelletta, notoriously known as ‘D’Artagnan,’ looted the Trevi Fountain for over three decades, managing to steal up to $1,000 on a daily basis! The Italian media eventually brought his thievery to light, and after Cercelletta began having difficulties stealing once the euro coin was introduced, police arrested him in 2002. Pillaging aside, we can all take comfort in knowing that even if our wishes don’t amount to anything in our lives directly, somewhere, we’ve improved someone else’s.