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How I Blew All $100,000 of My President's Engagement Prize on Luxury Shrimp


Photo by Pixnio / CC0

I need to get come clean about something. I never wanted to talk about this, but my family, the Penn administration, and my shrimp addiction counselors all told me I need to share my story with the public. Also, my lawyer said writing this might be a good PR move in case Penn presses charges.

I spent all $100,000 of my President’s Engagement Prize on rare and delicious shrimp.

I started out with good intentions. My project, Juntos Garajados: Building Garages for Goats in Bolivia seemed positioned to be the next big South American goat garage-building project, and I had my budget down to a T. I knew I was about to change the world. 

When I found out I had won the award, I celebrated with — you guessed it — shrimp. However, this was just normal shrimp from the grocery store. I sautéed it up and gulped it down with some homemade shrimp juice. Little did I know, this was the beginning of the spiral that would come to define the last year of my life.

The next day, I took my parents to a hip new ceviche place downtown. The shrimp there was unbelievable. It had the perfect crunch, saltwater essence, and deep mildew flavor. I knew I had to venture further into the shrimp world.

Over the next week, through some friends of friends of friends in the seafood mafia, I was able to secure a business relationship with Harold, the black market luxury shrimp kingpin. As I received his packages each day, I thought about how I was ignoring my job and spending all my project’s money. But then I would just gobble down some Scandinavian black shrimp or Afghani jumbo mini shrimp, and all my problems would fade away. 

By the time I knew I had a problem, it was too late — I had spent my entire bankroll on various types of luxury shrimp, and the thought of a goat garage had not entered my mind for months. I hit rock bottom (well shrimp bottom; I was engulfed in a mound of shrimp and didn’t think I could eat myself out this time). I called Harold, who called his shrimp psychology professor friend, who helped me get started on my path to recovery. 

So my story is not only an apology, but a cautionary tale: if you win the President’s Engagement Prize, please do not spend it all on luxury shrimp. But if you do, please invite me over for dinner sometime.