Here's What Actually Happens To The Money In Wishing Wells

The coins have to go somewhere eventually.
12/19/2017 06:46am ET
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In a recent episode of the Netflix show “Easy,” one character insists to another that they should toss a coin into a park fountain and make a wish. The wish doesn’t end up coming true, and they leave. But of course, the coin in this impromptu wishing well remained.

I was curious to learn what happens to such coins in real life. It turns out they typically follow one of a few similar journeys.

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Workers tasked with cleaning the fountains often just take the money if it’s only a few coins.

Or, someone could come along to grab a coin for their own pocket. That practice is relatively common in New York City, as the park fountains are only cleaned every couple of weeks. The Atlantic discovered that many fountain coins (at least the ones that aren’t in tourist attractions) get plucked away by those in need.

The money that does remain, if it’s a substantial amount, tends to be used for fountain upkeep or charitable donations.

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Famous fountains such as the Trevi in Rome can net thousands of dollars each day; that Trevi money mostly goes toward feeding those who can’t afford food.

As the friends on “Easy” discovered, it’s unclear if the coins tossed into fountains convert into actual wishes. But the money does tend to help improve many other lives.


For more on this subject:

The Atlantic did a comprehensive investigation.

Smithsonian Magazine pulled together different research on the typical outcomes.

The BBC had a longer look on how the Trevi specifically deals with its coins.

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