Chen Guangbiao's mountain of money. (Photo/Xinhua)
Chen Guangbiao, a controversial Chinese billionaire and philanthropist, on Dec. 21 offered a cash mountain totaling 230 million yuan (US$37 million) as a reward for young people who could answer his questions, an offer he says was intended to encourage the younger generation to be creative. He withdrew the reward after two hours when no one managed to satisfy him, reports the Chinese-language Beijing Times.
In the photo posted on his Sina Weibo account at around 2.30 pm, Chen stands beside a pile of 100 yuan banknotes 1.6 meters high and 17 meters in length.
At 4:24 pm, he announced the answers to his questions and made an advertisement for his company's tea products. He posted again after five minutes, saying: "It is a pity that no one has won the prizes" and advertised his products again.
Chen's latest act drew criticism on the internet, with many calling it a ruse to advertise his new products. "Massive exposure without spending a penny," one netizen said. Others thought Chen was insincere in his offer since he only let the public know about the event half an hour beforehand.
Chen responded to comments from internet users, saying, "This is not a show. I fulfill what I promise." He said he aims to stimulate young people's passion for invention and added he will set up a fund toward this end.
The prizes Chen offered but ultimately did not give out were a cash prize of 1 million yuan (US$160,000) for first prize, a 870-square-meter villa for second, and a 630-square-meter property for third. A winner may exchange the villa for cash, he said.
Chen is well accustomed to getting both positive and negative feedback for his high-profile brand of philanthropy. The self-made billionaire traveled to the scene of the devastating Sichuan earthquake that claimed 68,000 lives in 2008, to offer assistance and financial help. He also traveled to Taiwan last year and doled out 110 million yuan (US$17 million) in cash to local families. He also piled up similar cash mountains in 2010 to donate money to several provinces and regions including Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan.
Chen Guangbiao 陳光標