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A lot of money has changed hands in this transaction. However, unlike a Briefcase Full of Money
, this is a very public affair, usually designed to generate a lot of attention. So how is this shown when the cameras are on? Why, with a giant novelty check, of course!
Usually made out of cardboard or really thick, stiff paper, these checks are typically used either:
- To someone who just won the lottery and is getting a massive payoff, or
- Putting emphasis on a generous donation.
Those aren't the only uses for them, just the two most common.
It's worth noting that there is no required size or format for checks, so giant novelty checks can indeed be cashed at most banks so long as they have all of the required bank info on them. If you're a real shuckster, you can even endorse them on the back in your own name, no matter who is named as the payee on the front.
- This Esurance commercial, a full-on parody of this trope.
- A years-old ad for Chevrolet featured NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon 'teaching' the Tasmanian Devil how to celebrate winning a race. Including the advice 'Don't eat the check!' when Taz takes a bit out of one of these.
- In Happy Gilmore, Happy accumulates his various prize winnings via giant checks (to pay off the taxes his grandmother owes the IRS). One scene shows almost a dozen giant checks in the back seat of his car. This doesn't start happening for him until he begins moving up in the ranks, though:
Happy: Woah woah, hey, where's MY check?
Official: Oh, we'll be mailing them out next week.
Happy: Well that guy got one, right? Gimme one of them big ones, I don't care.
- Referenced in Super Street Fighter IV. When you beat the final boss [Seth] as Dan, in his win quote, he asks where his prize money is, and asks whether it comes in the form of a giant check.
- Jellyvision's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? games had a variation on this: the check would be in your name, and Regis' name would "write" itself onto the remitter line.
- Features prominently in this bonus strip for Lackadaisy, where Viktor receives one in response to a user question about wanting something good happen to him once in a while. This is also a rare case of the check being used as both a murder weapon and a getaway vehicle.
- Parodied in The Problem Solverz, as the reward is disproportionately small.
- The Simpsons did this a bunch of times:
- Monty Burns, in an effort to improve his public image, decides to donate $200,000 to the local children's hospital. He then pulls out a giant checkbook from his desk, fills it out, and tasks Homer with donating it for him. Homer then folds up the check into the size of a post-it note and pockets it; predictably, it unfolds into its original size in his pants.
- Better yet, the hospital names its new wing after Homer instead of Mr. Burns, having believed that the money was donated by Homer personally.
- Mr. Burns also sells the nuclear power plant in one episode and receives a giant novelty check. In the next scene, Burns flips the check over and endorses it with a giant quill.
- Mr. Burns also buys the 25 greyhound puppies Santa's Little Helper had with Santa's Bitch, netting himself a cool $25 million.
- In one episode, someone won the lottery in Springfield. A display is made out of the giant check presentation—not just to the winners, but a second check to local IRS agents (taxes are taken from lottery winnings and are classified as income) who then hold their check in front of the actual winners for the cameras.
- When Mr. Burns backs out of a donation, he marks it not only on the check but also in a giant checkbook.
- Back to the Future: The animated series had one episode where a TV show host offered $50,000 to anyone who brought an alien, a dinosaur or a boogeyman. Biff Tannen Senior and Junior found the dinosaur Verne brought from the past and got a novelty check for $50,000. When the dinosaur was "revealed" to be a fraud, the host ripped the check.
- Gravity Falls: One is presented to both Grunkle Stan and Old Man McGucket in the end credits of "Little Dipper".
- Done at the end of Total Drama Island. When Chris makes the offer at a chance to win an even bigger some, some helicopters airlift a novelty check so big it DWARFS THE ISLAND.
- Near the end of the Futurama episode "The Deep South", Bender is about to receive one of these for catching the world's heaviest fish with the "colossal-mouth bass" he caught, and he promptly folds it up and stuffs it into his chest cavity. However, when Fry falls out of the fish, causing the weight to drop under the record, the man takes the check away and says he'll "donate it to giant orphans".
- The Publisher's Clearing House is the Trope Codifier for this, as once a year, they'd roll up on the winner's house and present them their winnings right then and there.
- Countless state-run lottery drawings are known for doing this as well.
- David Letterman was cooperating with the police in a sting operation to catch the man who was trying to blackmail him. Letterman wrote a fake check for $2 million, and joked with police at the time that he should make it a giant novelty check.