$20 Bill Experiment – The Final Results are in…

$20 Bill Experiment - Over the last five (5) years I have conducted a real life experiment after speaking to small to large audiences of thousands of people that range from:

1st Graders to 8th Graders
High School Students to College Students
All the way to Business Professionals

What I do? I present a $20 bill at the end.

The Experiment: I deliver an interactive talk and motivational presentation, and worked to get the audience into an “Entrepreneur Mindset”, a “Can DO IT, and Will do it Mindset”.

When I’m done, I tell them there’s a QUIZ and it get’s quiet.

The $$$ Quiz: I ask the Audience, who is on the US Penny? Then I ask who is on the Quarter, and then the $1 bill, $5 bill, $10 bill and I confirm each time, which President is on each of those. Then comes the $20 Bill…

When the audience shouts out the names of Presidents they think is on the $20, I tell them“This is embarrassing, I forgot to write down which President is on the $20 bill. Let me check my wallet and see if I have a $20.”

Sure enough, I always have a $20 bill and I confirm with the audience, “if you guessed President Jackson is on the $20 bill, then you are correct.”


What Happens Next? I slap the $20 bill down on the table or floor and say “Whoever wants this $20, come and get it!”

Which group had the fastest time?


1st Graders – Most of the entire class lunged for the money immediately within 1-2 seconds of my slapping the $20 down.

On Average, how did the other Groups Score?

High School Students – Average of 1 minute and 2 seconds to grab the $20 (usually 1-2 people go after it)
College Students (in a classroom setting)–2 minutes and 10 seconds (usually 1-2 people go after it)
College Students – (In a large auditorium, hundreds of students, freshman Orientation) 1 minute and 20 seconds average.
Business Professionals (Age varies 25-70) – 3 minutes and 15 seconds. (Usually only 1 person gets up and goes after it)

How I end it?

(Strategic Pause) After the person grabs the $20, I take a long, uncomfortable strategic pause, for over 60 seconds. You can hear the audience whisper, giggle, wondering what’s going on, is there a catch…

Then I announce “If you learn even just one thing from me today, just take 1 thing, 1 lesson away from this talk today it’s this…An opportunity was presented, the $20 bill and only 1 person got it, only a couple people went after it. Most of you stayed where you were and did not go after it.

In life, opportunities will come up and present themselves to you, and if you don’t go after it, they will be GONE. The lesson is this, the next time an Opportunity presents itself, I want you all to GO AFTER IT.”

Conclusion: I was shocked to see the 1st Graders all jump for the money, and without hesitation. This leads me to believe that the younger you are, the less barriers you create and the less fear of failure you have to go after opportunities.

This $20 bill experiment also supports my research on “Why Entrepreneurship Should be Taught in 1st Grade”


POSTED: Monday, July 28, 2014 12:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 06:01 PM