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Giant Novelty Check

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He's actually quite happy. His face is just stuck that way.

Michael: When do they put that on the giant check? Or is that something that we write in later?
Pam: Well, a giant check costs about $200 to make up. I have a print shop standing by, but what do you think, Michael? That's over 25% of our funds.
Michael: It's a tough decision. I always imagined it with a giant check.

When a character wins a lottery or contest where they must be publicly presented with an enormous sum of money, or when an organization makes a sizeable donation to a charity for publicity, these funds will be ceremoniously presented in the form of an oversized check. This allows reporters to clearly photograph the check and monetary amount at a press conference or presentation ceremony.

The expectation is that the giant check is used for publicity purposes while the actual funds are transferred by a more practical means, such as a regular sized check or wire transfer. But the trope can be Played for Laughs if the giant check is the actual check, and the recipient needs to deposit it at a bank.

See also Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction.


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  • 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.
  • During the 1990s it was common for golf tournaments to play this trope straight by having the sponsor present the winner with a giant check in a ceremony immediately following the tournament. This was lampshaded in a commercial for the PGA Tour where Davis Love III offers a fan his check after a victory. The fan's overly excited reaction prompts Davis to ask a bystander, after the fan departs, whether the fan thought the check was real. The next shot was of the fan waiting in line at the bank holding the oversized check.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman '66: In "The Conqueror Bookworm", Bruce Wayne uses one to make a donation. The Bookworm steals the novelty checkbook, forcing the authorities to tell the banks not to honor that kind of check.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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: No no, I want mine now.
    Official: I don't have any checks to give.
    Happy: Well that guy got one, right? Gimme one of them big ones, I don't care.
  • Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster: Daphne's Uncle gives one to the gang to thank them for solving the mystery. It comes from "the Bank of Hanna-Barbera".
  • Stark Industries gives one to support the fundraiser the Parkers are doing in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrested Development has a two-second gag of Maeby receiving such a check and attempting to cash it. However, the bank doesn't have any double doors, the pen is chained to the counter, and Maeby is pretending to need a wheelchair at the time, so she finds the process very difficult.
  • The Price Is Right does this with the pricing game "Check Game". The prize and the amount of the check that the contestant fills in have to total within the desired range ($3,000-$3,500 from its debut until 1989, $5,000-$6,000 from 1989 to 2008, and $7,000-$8,000 since 2008) to win. Win or lose, the player walks away with the check (but if the contestant fails, the check has a big red VOID stamped on it, although the check is not cashable either way; both Barker and Carey have noted that voided checks often end up in the trash outside the CBS studio).
  • Winners on The Gong Show would walk off with one of these.
  • My Name Is Earl: Earl gets his lottery winnings first as a giant novelty check for publicity photos, then a regular-sized real check. Randy tries to "double the winnings" by cashing the giant novelty check. It doesn't work. Also, Joy sees Earl's picture on the front page of the paper, and becomes angry that she is not entitled to any of his winnings, as he claimed the prize after she divorced him.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Mads once invented a giant novelty checkbook, which causes some problems for them when Frank writes some checks but can't remember who he wrote them to.
  • The Colbert Report once featured Stephen donating some money with an absurdly huge novelty check (roughly 40 feet wide and 8 feet tall)—which he signed with an ordinary pen and a normal-sized signature. He also inverted this trope by promising Kim Jong-Il a giant novelty check if he came on the show—which turned out to be just a normal-sized check.
    "I was going to send a giant novelty check, until I realized that for Kim Jong-Il, this is a giant novelty check."
  • Parodied on the Australian version of Deal or No Deal. Normally, even the unluckiest contestants walk away with at least a small amount of cash, even if it's a single dollar. But when a hapless contestant managed to win literally nothing, they handed him a giant novelty check for the amount of "Nothing."
  • Alan has one of these made up when presenting Judith with her final alimony check in Two and a Half Men.
  • The Office (US):
    • Michael Scott organizes a fun run as a benefit. The giant check is made out to "Science" and presented to a stripper in a sexy nurse's costume. The cost of having the giant check printed was over 50% of what they'd raised anyway.
    • In another episode, Michael tries to turn a controversy around by publicly apologizing to a disgruntled client in front of reporters. His apology includes a giant check for "six months of free paper". The client is not impressed.
  • Comic Relief:
  • Power Rangers Ninja Steel: In "Echoes of Evil", Victor and Monty earn so much money with their monster repellant scam they leave the school and, as a parting gift, donate a million-dollar novelty check and a statue of Victor. In the end, they return and the Principal informs them that their check bounced and shows it now has a giant red X on. They say they had to refund their customers.
  • The Joe Schmo Show was a parody of reality shows in which all of the supposed participants were actually actors, with the exception of the chosen "schmo," or "schmoes" in the case of the second season. At the end of each season, they were made to think that one of the other supposed participants had won, before the truth of the whole scheme was revealed and they were presented with giant novelty checks.
  • The winner of Making It receives a giant wooden novelty check carved out of a log. It's heavy enough that at least two people are needed to present it.
  • The first episode of Weird Science has the boys see one on television and wish for it. It teleports back a couple of seconds later, to illustrate that magic is temporary in this 'verse.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • During Splatfests in Splatoon 2, some matches will earn the winning team 10 or 100 times the normal amount of Clout for their side. Teams who win 100x battles will be displayed on the Inkopolis Square Splatfest terminal screen holding a giant check.
  • In Disco Elysium, union boss Evrart Claire tries to bribe the Player Character with one of these signed for 25 réal, making it, objectively, a Comically Small Bribe, but since you as the player is constantly hurting for any kind of cash, it actually counts for a lot. Of course, by giving you the check, which is hard to hide, Evrart is also to trying to signal that you are on his payroll.

  • 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    • Homer, Bart and Grandpa use one as part of a scam they pull on Abe's fellow residents at the retirement castle. Homer and Bart show up wearing disguises and claiming Grandpa won ten million dollars. When Grandpa fakes a heart attack, Homer and Bart trick the other residents into bribing them for the check. One of the victims turn out to be a disguised agent who arrests Homer and Bart.
    • Springfield Elementary qualifies for and receives a government grant after Lisa gets an A+++ on a test (though she cheated). The comptroller presents the school with a giant check.
      Principal Skinner: "I know a liquor store where we can cash this right now!"
    • After Bart and Todd decide to call it a draw in a miniature golf tournament, each one receives a giant check worth half the money prize.
  • 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. When Chris makes the offer at a chance to win an even bigger sum, 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 mayor takes the check away and says he'll "donate it to giant orphans".
    • In "Time Keeps on Slipping", Prof. Farnsworth gets one such check from President Nixon, in the amount of "all of Earth's money".
  • In episode 1 of the sixth season of The Venture Bros., one of Rusty Venture's duties after he fires the board when he takes over his late brother's company is to present giant checks to charities. The checks are torn out of a giant checkbook, which Rusty carries with him when he goes back to his new penthouse that night.
  • In Buddy Thunderstruck, Jacko offers Buddy a whole lot of cash money if he can maintain a healthy lifestyle for 30 days. When Buddy complies, Jacko shows up with a giant novelty check for the amount of "A whole lot of cash money" and dated for "30 days from today".
  • When Dr. Doofenshmirtz holds a “Telethon of Evil” in Phineas and Ferb, the only donation he gets is a giant check for twenty-three dollars.
  • In the Big Hero 6: The Series episode "Failure Mode", Fred sells the art museum water fountain he accidentally melted as a piece of modern art for one million dollars and is paid with a big check. But since he's already rich, it's nothing to him, so he donates it to the museum to compensate them for the theft of Lenore Shimamoto's painting.
  • Dexter's Laboratory has Dee-Dee win the Publishers' Sweepinghouse Sweepstakes (a parody of the Real Life Publisher's Clearinghouse Giveaway) and wins $20 Million Dollars in the form of a gigantic check. Dee-Dee, being who she is proceeds to shove the whole thing in her piggy bank.
  • Chester has one of these presented to him in Codename: Kids Next Door as a reward for defeating Numbah One, in the amount of "One Buh-Million Dollars". It's actually just a fantasy created by his own Lotus-Eater Machine being turned back on him during a struggle with Numbah One.
  • Parodied in The Oblongs, where after Bob injures himself the theme park tries to buy him off from suing by presenting him with a Giant Novelty Check... for $25. Pickles points out how low the value is on said check.
  • In the Rugrats episode "Chuckie is Rich", Chaz won ten million dollars in a sweepstakes with a giant check presented by Pat Sajak.
  • Robo Roach has Reg win the lottery in one episode and is presented a giant cheque, but is then immediately dinged with various taxes, with Rube chiming in with "giant novelty cheque fee," ultimately leaving him with next to nothing.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
    • A man in Iowa won one dollar off a scratch card and decided to go to the state lottery office to ask for his winnings to be presented to him in the form of a giant novelty check. The lottery office indulged him and gave him a giant check and even took his photo as if he was a multi-million dollar winner.
  • 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.
  • Following the 1983 announcement that Chrysler Corporation had repaid the $800 million loans that were credited with saving the company from collapse, Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca had a giant check in the background in the announcement.
  • In a clever social experiment, a bank in Australia put up giant checks on billboards valued at $2240 AUD. Naturally, passersby assumed that these were just ordinary advertisements, until it was revealed that if you signed your name on one, tore it down and took it to a branch, you could cash it in for the aforementioned amount.
  • Some (though not all) banks will actually accept giant novelty checks as valid so long as the necessary information — name and bank account number of the payer, the bank where the paying account is located, amount, instruction to actually pay ("Pay to the order of...") — is on there, because there's no overarching rule that a valid check has to be a certain size. The novelty check itself won't be entered because it's physically cumbersome, but if the teller/manager is in a good mood they'll have a laugh and copy the information down on their own standard checks.