The Time A Man Went to Jail Because Of A Two-Dollar Bill…3 min read

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Ewan Hollander

Just sharing things that interest me in the hopes that they interest others as well

…or…man goes to jail because cashier and police officer hadn’t seen a two-dollar bill before. To be honest, either title would do. The story is as ridiculous as it is silly. A brief bit of context…. at this moment there are there are 11 billion $1 bills, 1.9 billion $10 bills, 8.1 billion $20 bills and 10.1 billion $100 bills in circulation globally right now. What you may not know is that (as of the 30th of April 2017) there are 1.5 billion $2 bills in circulation as well.

The United States $2 bill

The Time A Man Went to Jail Because Of A Two-Dollar Bill...

That’s right. 1.5 billion of the virtually unheard of denomination. So why don’t you hear of the bill more often or open you wallet to see Thomas Jefferson staring back at you? It has been said that low printing numbers in the 1950’s resulted in the two-dollar bill constituting only 1% of the total US currency circulation for years. In more recent times (since 2005) the issue and print of these bills have increased dramatically.

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The two-dollar bill came into circulation in 1862. Back then, a lot of people made less that $15 a month. After the Great Depression hit and the economy recovered, the $2 bill found itself at a strange price point between the $1 bill and the $5 bill.

The time a man went to jail because neither a cashier nor a police officer had ever heard of the $2 bill

This story is a clip from the film The Two Dollar Documentary. A business owner, Mike Bolesta, who ran a tour agency would often have two-dollar bills on hand. One time, in Best Buy, he tried to pay for a car stereo installation with the obscure bill. The cashier hadn’t seen the bill before and took it to the store manager who himself had never seen it either. They called the police and once the officer arrived, Mike was arrested because the officer had never seen it either. Everyone thought it was fake money. It was not until the Secret Service confirmed that the two-dollar bill was real that Mike was released.

The video below is an exert from the documentary. In it, Mike tells the story in his own words.

Is this an isolated incident?

You may like to think it is, but alas no. Mike’s story was not the first time this happened. in May 2016, Forbes reported that an either-grade student got in trouble for trying to buy chicken nuggets with a $2 bill. The issue was only sorted once the school, in which the student tried to use the $2 bill, called a bank to verify the money was legal tender. Under federal law, a person who intentionally  uses counterfeit money can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and will be subject to a fine.

Do you have a story about the two-dollar bill?

Have you had trouble using a two-dollar bill? Did you even know the $2 bill was in circulation? Let us know in the comment box below.


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Ewan Hollander

Just sharing things that interest me in the hopes that they interest others as well