When former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced that he would spend hundreds of millions, and potentially a billion, on his presidential run, it naturally sparked tons of outrage. The billionaire frontman for New York's racist stop and frisk policy appeared to be buying an election, or was at least willing to burn through 1/60th of his fortune trying. But his critics are missing the small picture here: What if some of that giant pile of cash trickles down into your pockets? The billionaire is spending so much money, and on so many things, that there's probably a chance for you to be one of those things. Here's a guide on how you could personally benefit from an oligarch's run at the White House:
Rally attendee: free food and T-shirts
Perhaps you are not a personal fan of Bloomberg's politics. You might take issue with the way he controlled New York City using his vast wealth while he was mayor, or maybe you're outraged by the recently surfaced audio in which he blames the 2008 financial crisis in part on reforms that allowed Black people to get mortgages nearly as easily as white people. But if you leave those concerns at the door, you can head to Bloomberg events for free T-shirts and free food, according to the New York Times:
For a rally in New York City in January, Mr. Bloomberg rented out the very same Times Square hotel ballroom in which he had celebrated one of his mayoral victories, with a D.J. presiding and wine and beer and goat cheese puffs on hand for all.
At a Philadelphia rally last week, more than 1,000 people were offered cheesesteaks, hoagies, and platters of honey-coated brie, fig jam, and gourmet flatbreads.
Small-time influencer: $150
People with a few thousand social media followers don't really have any power and no one cares what they say. Still, if you are one of the many, many wannabe social media celebrities with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers—and no shame—you can earn $150 by making custom content “that tells us why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected," according to campaign copy obtained by the Daily Beast. That sounds like it might be a lot of work for $150, to be honest.
Big-time influencer: a lot more than that
The real money comes way past the 100,000 follower mark, as Jerry Media surely knows. The marketing agency began as a humble Instagram account that mainly stole other people's jokes and reposted them. But now its chief executive Mick Purzycki has leveled up to the point where he runs a company called Meme 2020, which on Thursday launched a bunch of self-aware pro-Bloomberg memes on several high-follower Insta accounts. It's unclear how much money was distributed to Meme 2020 and the Bloomberg-for-pay accounts, but it was definitely more than $150.
Entry-level campaign staffer: $6,000 a month
That number comes from the New York Times, which reports that field organizers—a fairly basic campaign position—make the equivalent of $72,000 a year. One organizer told the Times, "When I found out what my salary was, I was like, ‘Wow.’” That's a lot more than campaign work typically pays, and since Bloomberg is likely to keep spending money to oppose Donald Trump until November, even if the billionaire is not the Democratic nominee, it's an unusually stable political gig as well. It's such a sweet opportunity, and so many people are signing up with Bloomberg, that progressive candidates and organizations around the country are sometimes starved for good hires, reported the Intercept Thursday. It's possible this mudslide of cash is therefore not a huge positive for the Democratic Party—but it's great for the low-level workers who are going to be paying off their student loans.
High-level campaign staff: up to $375,000 a year
That, according to Politico, is the top end of salaries on the Bloomberg campaign, making it a sweet opportunity even before you factor in the perks. And oh, the perks. From Politico:
Bloomberg now has more than 1,000 people on his campaign payroll. Those employees got iPhone 11s and MacBooks and were put up in furnished Manhattan apartments if they relocated. Now, they enjoy catered meals throughout the long days they’re expected to clock. The campaign’s $750,000 travel tab, which includes the use of a private plane owned by Bloomberg’s eponymous financial news organization, doesn’t include airfare and hotels racked up this month as he zoomed in on California, Texas and Florida.
The campaign spent $10,000 on sushi alone.
If you're eating that much sushi, who cares if you actually win the primaries?
Mayors and other politicians: potentially millions
Even in the whatever-the-fuck days of 2020, literally buying endorsements from public figures is seen as gauche. Tom Steyer, the Cousin Greg to Bloomberg's Shiv Roy, had an aide who tried to trade cash for the support of an Iowa politician and was roundly criticized for it. Bloomberg doesn't need to be so crude—through his philanthropic foundation and political donations, he's already cultivated an extensive network of mayors who were ready to endorse him as soon as he entered the race.
Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, one of Bloomberg's many mayoral endorsers, went to a training program for mayors at Harvard funded by Bloomberg; the billionaire also donated $500,000 to an education reform group in Tubbs's city, the Times reports. Likewise, Bloomberg spent millions fighting for a soda tax and against e-cigarettes in San Francisco; now Mayor London Breed, who was on the same side of those issues, has endorsed him. (Breed and Tubbs are among several Black mayors who have backed Bloomberg after their cities benefited from his giving, and their endorsements may matter given the billionaire's record of racist policing.)
Not that this means there's a quid pro quo here. Bloomberg has given money to a lot of initiatives and a lot of candidates over the years, and of course politicians he was allied with in the past are likely to be allied with him in 2020. In 2018, Bloomberg spent $2.5 million trying to get former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa elected as governor of California, and this month Villaraigosa endorsed Bloomberg for president—was that the money talking, or is it just an indication that the two men see eye-to-eye on a bunch of subjects? Or is some mixture of the two? Maybe money can't buy you friendship, but it sure makes people a lot friendlier.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Harry Cheadle on Twitter.