Keep Scrolling for continue reading for more stories

Trump And Spy Magazine: When A Supposed Billionaire Cashed a 13-Cent Check


  • Spy magazine’s iconic experiment involved sending checks of decreasing amounts to renowned figures, revealing who’d cash the smallest of sums.
  • Donald Trump and Adnan Khashoggi were among the few who deposited the seemingly insignificant 13-cent check.
  • Decades later, a startling twist ties Trump to the Khashoggi family again; this time in the context of a controversial cover-up of Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination. Jamal was Adnan’s nephew.
  • Jamal, a vocal critic of the Saudi regime and Adnan’s nephew, was believed to have been murdered on Saudi orders.
  • Reports suggest Trump’s administration may have played a role in covering up the true nature of Jamal’s death, a grim coincidence linking the earlier jest with a global tragedy.
  • A tale of humor, power, and misfortune, this narrative sheds light on the uncanny interconnectedness of global events.

The Checkered Past of New York’s Elites

Spy magazine of the 1980s wasn’t just another periodical; it was an iconoclastic titan, known for its wit and satire that often targeted New York’s elite. One of their most memorable experiments was as simple as it was revealing. To better understand the habits of the wealthy, the magazine mailed out checks of decreasing amounts to several renowned figures. The catch? To see who would deposit these tiny sums.

Beginning with $1.11 and progressively reducing the amount, they reached a measly 13 cents. Among the elite recipients, many dismissed these trivial amounts. However, Donald Trump, the real estate magnate whose name would soon be synonymous with New York skyscrapers, and Adnan Khashoggi, an international business tycoon, both cashed their checks. As recounted in Mother Jones, this cheeky act, meant to be a light-hearted jab, inadvertently highlighted their meticulous nature, if not their obsession with every cent that bore their name.

Public reports captured the public’s amusement, noting the irony in how these affluent figures, for whom 13 cents would be a drop in their vast financial oceans, took the time to acknowledge and cash these checks. Vanity Fair, elaborating on Trump’s habit of keeping score against “losers,” presented this incident as a peculiar reflection of his character.

To many, this incident was more than just a playful jest. The act of cashing such a minuscule check was spotlight into their identities, particularly their love of money.

The Story Continues: Trump And Jamal Khashoggi

In the late 1980s, New York’s Spy magazine emerged as a distinctive publication that melded humor with sharp critique, often directed at the city’s elite. Among its notable endeavors was the relatively minor but telling exercise of mailing nominal checks to prominent figures, testing their frugality. Notably, both Donald Trump and Adnan Khashoggi engaged with this experiment, each in their way becoming a part of Spy magazine’s journalistic lore.

However, history would connect Trump with another Khashoggi, and this time for far less jovial reasons.

In 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist and nephew of Adnan Khashoggi, became the subject of international attention following his disappearance after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul,Turkey. Khashoggi, a journalist and critic of Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown-Prince of Saudi Arabia, went to the consulate to pick up a document so he could marry again.

Upon entering the consulate, it is believed that Bin Salman had a team of professional killers waiting for him. The U.S. intelligence community is confident that Bin Salman’s team assassinated and dismembered Khashoggi at the consulate. As reported by The New York Times, evidence suggests Kashoggi’s murder was premeditated and planned by Saudi Arabia’s highest offices.

Upon learning of Khashoggi’s murder, Trump behaved more like the Kingdom’s personal representative than the President of the United States, first by defending Saudi Arabia, and then by attacking Khashoggi. Trump would end up publicly dismissing the US intelligence community’s analysis linking Bin Salman to Khashoggi’s murder.


  1. Matthews, David. “Let’s remember the time Donald Trump cashed a 13¢ check sent to him as a prank.” Splinter News. July 23, 2015.
  2. Associated Press. “[Article title not provided].” Roanoke Times. June 7, 1990. Landmark Communications, Inc., METRO edition, p. A-1.
  3. Feirstein, Bruce. “Trump’s War on ‘Losers’: The Early Years.” Vanity Fair. August 12, 2015.
  4. [Author not provided]. “Among the thrifty, Trump checks out.” Tampa Bay Times. June 6, 1990.
  5. Murphy, Tim. “The Trump Files: The Easiest 13 Cents He Ever Made.” Mother Jones. August 4, 2020.
  6. Wikipedia contributors. “Jamal Khashoggi.” Wikipedia.
  7. Miller, Aaron David, and Richard Sokolsky. “Opinion: Trump And Pompeo Have Enabled A Saudi Cover-Up Of The Khashoggi Killing.” NPR. October 2, 2019.
  8. Barnes, Julian E., and David E. Sanger. “Saudi Crown Prince Is Held Responsible for Khashoggi Killing in U.S. Report.” The New York Times. February 26, 2021.