Elsewhere on this site, you can read about the weird and wacky nature of Golden Palace Casino and the incredible publicity stunts that the business has pulled off over the years. One of the main things that the company has done over the years is spent money buying all sorts of odd and unusual things, from a ghost in a jar to William Shatner’s kidney stone, via a corn flake shaped like Illinois and the Pope’s old car. If someone was selling something out of the ordinary then there’s a good chance that Golden Palace was going to be in the queue of people buying it.
In 2005, the company paid $10,000 to have the casino’s name tattooed on a woman’s head. That is the sort of level that they were willing to operate at. One thing we didn’t mention in that article, however, is the fact that there have been more than a couple of occasions in which Golden Palace has been willing to pay someone to legally change their name after the company. As the sandwich company Subway launches a competition to win ‘Deli Hero’ subs for life to someone willing to change their name to ‘Subway’, it is worth looking closer at how Golden Palace led the way.
Name Changes for Money
For a lot of people, getting even £1,000 would be a difference maker in their lives. Make that into £10,000 or more and you can see how it would be something that would be all but impossible to resist. For Golden Palace, meanwhile, the publicity that would come along with getting someone to legally change their name would be close to priceless. Put those two things together and you can suddenly understand why there was a brief flurry of exactly that happening back in 2005. Here is a look at each of those incidents in a little bit more detail:
Terri Ilagan Changes Name Via eBay Sale
eBay has long been a popular platform to buy and sell all sorts of products. If you’re looking for some golf clubs, a new set of baby clothes or even a car, the chances are high that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for on the platform. What you probably wouldn’t expect to find on there is someone willing to change their name legally, as long as you paid them enough. Yet that is exactly what Terri Ilagan decided to do back in 2005, posting an auction with the following headline:
RIGHTS TO NAME ME! LEGALLY CHANGE MY FULL NAME FOREVER! RARE, LIFETIME ADVERTISING IDEA 4 YOUR COMPANY/WEBSITE!
After seeing Golden Palace spend huge sums of money on some frankly ridiculous things, the mother of five figured that there was a good chance that the online casino would spot her auction and want to get involved. Obviously the eBay-happy business was straight onto Ilagan, who was 33-years-old at the time and happy to legally change her name in order to get as much money as she could in order to help raise her family. She said,“I was driving one day and I told my husband, I don’t think anyone’s tried to sell their name on eBay yet. So I put it up for auction and I got all kind of responses within 24 hours of it being listed.”
In order to change her name to GoldenPalace.com, the company agreed to pay Ilagan $15,199. Whether she was disappointed that she didn’t get more, considering a grilled cheese sandwich that looked like the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000, she didn’t say. Nor did she admit how difficult her life was going to be when going through airport security or if she needed to get insurance for something. Given the extent to which the money would help her raise her family, however, it isn’t clear whether she was even that bothered about any of those issues.
What she did say was that she will ‘always be Terri’ to her kids and husband. She said, “He thinks it’s funny. As long as they get to call me Mom, they don’t care. They are already starting to tease me and call me Goldie.” The Chief Executive Officer of Golden Palace, meanwhile, referred to as a ‘new step in edgy marketing’. Richard Rowe said,
We know that this will receive widespread media attention. We also hope that the money spent will go a long way in helping GoldenPalace.com’s family. Anyone that has kids knows the enormous expense that it requires to provide for them. We are happy to help GoldenPalace.com make ends meet.
Babies’ Naming Rights Sold for $12,000
Having taken up the offer of Teri Ilagan to change her name to GoldenPalace.com, the casino must have spent hours searching eBay for other opportunities to get the associated publicity. When a mother pregnant with triplets offered the chance to name them in exchange for money, therefore, the company was straight onto her. Using the ‘Buy It Now’ option on the auction site, Golden Palace paid $12,000 for the chance to name the triplets whatever they wanted. At the time, there was only one name that was decided upon, with CEO Richard Rowe saying, “One of the children will be named GoldenPalace.com for sure.”
The names of the other two kids weren’t decided at the time, with the plan being to name them in the August of 2005 after they’d been born. That it is all but impossible to find out what the casino ended up naming them suggests that it perhaps wasn’t the advertising coup that Rowe and his colleagues will have been hoping for. That being said, the company got plenty of media attention at the time, to say nothing of two people in the space of two months being named after the online casino; albeit with one of them having no clue their mother had sold the rights to name them.
What we don’t know is quite how the kids felt when they grew up and found out that their mum had decided to sell the right to give them a name to the highest bidder. Considering a silicon breast implant that had belonged to a former Playboy cover girl sold for $16,766, the poor child that spent their life having to fill in paperwork saying that their legal name was GoldenPalace.com might well have felt that their mum should’ve held out for more money. After all, she wasn’t having to explain to people why their legal name was quite so ridiculous, all so their mum could pay for groceries.
Another Baby Gets Named GoldenPalace.com
Natasha, the mother of the triplets in Norfolk, Virginia, might well have been a tad upset when, later in the month, she learned that another baby named GoldenPalace.com had been born. It probably wasn’t the fact that another child with the same name has her’s had arrived in the world, this time in Hatford, Connecticut, that will have caused her some consternation. Instead, it will have been the fact that this time the naming rights went for $15,100 for just one baby, which is $3,100 more than she sold the names of all three of her babies for. That, though, is the gamble you take.
Melissa, the mother in Hartford, sold the naming rights for her baby whilst it was still in the womb, aiming to get enough money to be able to pay for the various necessities that you get with a baby. Anything left over after that was going to be put into a trust fund that the child could access when they were 18, presumably with the aim of changing their name to something more normal. It was yet another example of the sort of ‘crazy and edgy advertising’ that Golden Palace had made their stock in trade in 2005, buying not just the rights to name people but also all sorts of strange objects people were selling.
Alongside the countless bits of advertisement that Golden Palace received on account of the publicity stunts, the company was also inundated with people looking to sell them some weird things. CEO Richard Rowe said,
We now regularly receive thousands of emails from would-be sellers of outlandish items every day. This has truly become a phenomenon and has changed the way people think about marketing. It seems like there are no limits to what can be advertised. Perhaps the name ‘GoldenPalace.com’ will be as common as ‘Richard’ in a few years from now.
GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman Born on May 19th
It seems that babies named after online casinos are like buses: you wait ages for one and then three come along at once. On the 19th of May, 2005 at 2:28pm, a baby boy with the official name ‘GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman’ was born, weighing seven pounds, ten ounces. Thankfully, the parents were paid more than that in order to give their son that name, with the casino paying $15,000 for the rights this time. If the parents had any regrets then they didn’t express them, probably on account of the fact that they were significantly richer after, literally, selling their son out.
It was merely the latest in a long line of marketing decisions made by the online casino that were aimed at getting them as much attention as possible from the media. Richard Rowe, the company’s Chief Executive Officer at the time, said, “We congratulate the new parents of GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman. We wish them and their beautiful baby boy all the best. You can expect more baby-naming in the future as I am sure other people will follow suit and be looking to auction off the naming rights to their children.” The words from Rowe seemed to suggest that having named five babies wasn’t enough for the company.
What Are Subway Doing?
Knowing that Golden Palace have named several children after the company and one grown woman, Subway, the sandwich company, decided to launch a similar campaign of their own. This might well be because they couldn’t figure out how to bake bread that looked like Jesus that they could sell to Golden Palace instead. The competition was launched at the end of July 2023, giving people the chance to enter in order to win free ‘Deli Hero’ subs for life. They would get this, as well as be reimbursed for legal costs, if they were willing to change their name to Subway.
The contest was open between the first and fourth of August 2023, with only grown adults living in the United States of America able to enter. The winning contestant was selected at random from all those who had entered, with the theory being that it would only be ‘superfans’ who would dare to enter. A year earlier, one such superfan had camped out for two days in order to get a footlong tattoo of the company’s Subway Series logo in exchange for free sandwiches, so this was merely a move further along the same line.
The big difference is that the willingness to change your name to Subway was specifically in order to advertising the ‘Deli Hero’ collection, which was a change implemented by Subway after two years’ worth of consulting. The company invested more than $80 million buying in deli meat slicers for more than 20,000 restaurants. In order to get the money, the winner needed to go through a background check as well as provide proof of the name change within four months, with the ‘lifetime’s worth’ of sandwiches coming in the form of $50,000 in gift cards for the chain.