Paypal Error Makes Man an Accidental Quadrillionaire

Pennsylvania resident Chris Reynolds isn't actually the world's richest person, but for a few hours last week it looked as if he might be

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KAREN BLEIER / AFP / Getty Images

When Chris Reynolds got an email regarding his PayPal account last Friday, he was stunned to see a 17-digit balance. The mind-boggling amount — $92,233,720,368,547,800 — was about 14 digits longer than he was used to seeing there. “At first I thought that I owed quadrillions. It was quite a big surprise,” the Media, Pennsylvania resident told the Philadelphia Daily News.

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Reynolds has used the online payment service for the past 10 years to buy and sell items on eBay, such as vintage parts. He estimates that typically he averages no more than $100 in transactions a month.

A quadrillion dollars—which is actually a real number—is just about 1300 times more than the world’s GDP, which is approximately $70 trillion a year. That’s leagues above the net worth of Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates, who reclaimed his spot as the world’s richest man this year from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

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When Reynolds decided to double check and log into his account later that afternoon, though, he noticed that PayPal had already fixed the error and his actual account balance was $0. CNN reports that PayPal said in a statement, “This is obviously an error and we appreciate that Mr. Reynolds understood this was the case.”

And what would have Reynolds done with the money? “I’m a very responsible guy,” he told UPI. “I would pay the national debt down first. Then I would buy the Phillies, if I could get a great price.”