N.Y. giveaway ignites angry mob


Published: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 2:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 2:29 p.m.

NEW YORK - Even giving away something for free can turn into a hassle in New York.

A video-sharing Web site set out to observe Leap Day by handing out prizes worth up to $29 on Feb. 29 outside Union Square Park.

As the clocked toward the event's scheduled time 2:29 p.m. people shouting "Make it rain!" and "Give me my money!" trampled one another and mobbed the costumed representatives of CashTomato.com

Some people wrested bags of cash-stuffed envelopes and other items from the CashTomato workers, said Jason Buzi, who identified himself as the company's senior vice president.

The prize givers weren't the only ones who were overwhelmed.

"Before I knew it, I was on the floor" and under a pile of people, said Anabel DeJesus, 17. She left without any prize. "It's not worth it."

Police didn't have any information Saturday on whether anyone was injured or arrested.

Buzi said CashTomato has staged relatively uneventful giveaways in other cities, and he was startled by the Manhattan mayhem.

"It turned out to be a lot of aggressive people," he said. "Maybe next time, I would plan this better."

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