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The numbers behind the humble Potato Salad Kickstarter campaign

So the guy who recently raised a massive US$55 492 via crowdfunding pledges on Kickstarter did so by wanting to make enough money to afford a potato salad for a little get together with some friends. “Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet,” reads the pitch with a stock photo of very tasty-looking creamy bowl of potato wedges.

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In celebration of the somewhat controversial anomaly, Kickstarter recently did some number-crunching so that it — and the rest of us — can better understand the reasoning behind Zack Brown (aptly also known as The Potato Salad Guy) and the campaign’s 6 911 backers.

As the popular crowdfunding site writes, what intrigued it most was the reaction Brown got from all corners of the internet: head-scratching, laughter, loud harrumphing, and pure delight.

The Potato Salad campaign is now the fourth most popular page on Kickstarter, there’s even a public party in the works to honour the humble potato, namely PotatoStock 2014.

According to the numbers, The Potato Salad crowdfunding campaign is more popular than the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift as well as the US$5.4-million raised by children’s education campaign, Reading Rainbow. Overall, it got 4.1 million page views. The only campaigns that managed to beat it to the chase were the Veronica Mars movie, Pebble watch, with the Ouya game console coming out on top.

Its reputation definitely exceeded itself in that, while The Potato Salad guy got more than US$55 000, it also got the least amount of pledges compared to the most popular Kickstarter campaigns.

As you can imagine, the US showed the biggest support for The Potato Salad movement with nearly 5 000 Americans donating their money to Brown’s cause.

Something that’s quite prominent in the data is the fact that most of Brown’s backers come from Ohio which is his home state, 62% of all pledges. This strong support could have stemmed from word of mouth between friends and neighbours in Brown’s hometown, or just the patriotic idea of supporting a local cause. Ohio was followed by California.

What’s usually driven by incentives, overall, donation averaged US$8.03 per pledge to further contribute to the cheeky cause. Most of the backers are Kickstarter regulars. As much of 72% have backed previous projects averaging 15 projects on Kickstarter. See pie chart below:

Kickstarter eventually came to one possible explanation for The Potato Salad guy’s success, summing it up neatly as follows:

“Kickstarter is a good place to aim high and go big, but small projects are great too. If you want to make something to share with others, maybe you just need ten or 20 or 50 people to get your idea off the ground. And if it turns out that 6 911 people share your vision for potato salad… then you’re going to need some more potatoes.”

Do you think this was something more than a practical joke on the internet? Let us know what you think.

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