Jack Benny should be rolling in his grave, not so much about the news that a rare 1945 Jack Benny plastic penny that he once owned just sold for 200 million dollars at auction, but more to the fact that rolling in one's grave is free.
The coin, the only one known to exist, was put up for auction on E-Bay by a Minnesota man named Larry Pliable. Mr. Pliable claimed that he obtained the uncirculated coin from a traveling spoon salesman as a throw-in with a set of 24 used, but cleaned, plastic spoons that he bought for 5 cents. How the salesman obtained the coin is somewhat of a mystery.
The buyer who is prisoner number 3345543 at Riker's Island has requested to remain anonymous.
The lone coin was struck by the US Mint in 1945 as part of the war effort to reduce the cost of minting coins and preserve metals to be used for making really big gas guzzling power cars, because riding around on a bunch of coins wasn't anywhere near as cool as riding around in the likeness of a 1940 Delahaye 135 convertible. Although riding around on a bunch of coins still beats riding around in a 2013 Nissan Leaf. Honestly, no two people can do it in a Nissan Leaf. Trust me.
At the time, Congress figured that the face of frugality in those trying times was none other than Jack Benny. So they ordered the US Mint to strike a Jack Benny plastic penny with Mr. Benny's profile on its head and the number 39 on its tail. The number 39 was to commemorate Jack Benny's 13th consecutive year of being 39 years old.
According to historians from the famed college of Whatsamatta U, a prototype coin was minted on May 6th of 1945 and presented to president Roosevelt at the White House the next day. The president had just given the coin to Mr. Benny to observe when it was announced that Germany had surrendered. Everyone started celebrating madly at the announcement and in all the excitement the Jack Benny plastic penny was all but forgotten, because everyone knew that it was only a matter of months before Japan would surrender and start selling everyone transistor radios.
Still the mystery as to how Mr. Benny parted with the coin persists, although some light has been shed by the grandson of Mr. Benny's valet and chauffeur Rochester. Rochester's grandson retold a story his grandfather told him of the coin. His grandfather claimed he remembered Mr. Benny carrying around a plastic penny with his profile on its head and the number 39 on its tail. He said that one day when Mr. Benny went to buy a new suit he insisted on one that had no pockets so that he could get it at a discount. When he put on the new suit he realized his lack of security for his coin so he took off one of his shoes and put the coin in the bottom of it. Shortly after he stopped and got a shine from a street shoe shine boy. When the boy was done and asked to be paid, Mr. Benny became agitated and took off his shoes and told the kid to keep them.
The historians from Whatsamatta U disagree with Rochester's grandson, claiming that the coin given to Rochester himself as a Christmas bonus.