Brooklyn Bridge Lottery
1992, New York, New York
On March 24, 1992, a fake inter-office memorandum from the then Mayor of the City of New York, David Dinkins, was leaked to the press. A handwritten Post-it note was attached which read "Thought you might be interested in seeing what the Mayor's up to! 'Mayor to Sell the Brooklyn Bridge!' Think this will fly?? I love New York!!!"
It was signed with the letter J (a.k.a. Joey Skaggs). The press jumped all over it, thinking they had an inside mole. The Dinkins Administration, wrestling with a way to raise the necessary funds to repair the city's decaying infrastructure, was apparently now instituting a lottery to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.
In addition to a million dollar lottery prize, the winner would have the bridge named after him or her for five years. After five years, there'd be another lottery. And if the plan worked, other prominent land marks would soon follow.
The Associated Press put the story out on the wire service and it went around the world. WABC TV, WPIX TV, La Republica and Corriere Della Sera fell for it, to name a few. The Mayor's office was flooded with calls and of course vehemently denied that the Mayor was going to sell the Brooklyn Bridge. None-the-less, a lot of people thought it was a great idea. An Italian publication suggested they might consider the same idea for the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.