Cat-loving Austin entrepreneur tells Moneyish about the insane gifts the Microsoft founder surprised her with.
Bill Gates is the purrfect gift giver.
The Microsoft cofounder worth $90.8 billion surprised this Austin entrepreneur by sending her a crate of cat-centric gifts on Wednesday — including $750 in donations to her three favorite cat charities and a gigantic stuffed Pusheen (a cartoon cat character) — after drawing her name in reddit’s annual Secret Santa exchange.
“Everytime I think of it, I get excited and turn into a giddy little kid again,” Megan Cummins, who goes by VietteLLC on Reddit, told Moneyish. “Every Christmas after this will pale in comparison. Now every Christmas will have to be ‘BB’ (Before Bill) and ‘AB’ (After Bill.)”
The 31-year-old self-described “serial entrepreneur” and owner of SparklePop.com (and four cats) dreams of opening a no-kill cat shelter and reforming the U.S. shelter system to be a humane no-kill zone. “Cats are my thing. My life-force, my happiness,” she wrote on reddit.
She enters the reddit Secret Santa every year – which Gates is known to participate in. Last year he gifted a video game fan with a pile of presents that included “Legend of Zelda” gear, an Xbox One and a Nintendo NES Classic Edition. But Cummins never expected to get picked. “It’s part of my Christmas tradition now, and I always look forward to poking around and finding out who Bill Gates’ person is each year,” she said. “It’s not something you actually think will happen to you.”
Gates and his team got the picture, and ran wild with the feline theme in sending her:
- A one-of-a-kind framed cross-stitch of Gates, Cummins and her four cats that says “Live Life in the Meow”
- A stuffed version of Pusheen’s sister, Stormy
- A tiny Pusheen ornament
- A book on cat shelters with a personal note written by Gates
- A cardboard “Doctor Who” Tardis for her cats to scratch
- A mini Austrian snow-globe with a white kitten inside.
And even more, including some Dave Matthews Band merch, a business book to help with her startups, and a Japanese Daruma doll for good luck.
“Bill Gates knows that I’m a crazy cat person, he knows I want to open a shelter, and the fact that he really thinks I can do it is amazing,” she said.
But the greatest gift was Gates donating $250 apiece to her three favorite no-kill cat shelters: The Friends of Felines Rescue Group, The Stray Cat Alliance and Town Cats. “I didn’t list out the shelters I like; they went and found my company website, and found the shelters we donate to on there, so they did a little sleuthing,” she said. “They actually spent some time coming up with the perfect gifts, which is impressive.”
She and her boyfriend have been a little overwhelmed by the enormous Pusheen, which they put at about 30 pounds. “Photos do not do this thing justice. It’s ridiculous,” she said. “We live in a house in Austin, but we have to downsize to a much smaller place when we move to Seattle in a couple of months, and Pusheen won’t even fit in the car. But I can never get rid of it. It’s like a statue that Bill Gates gave me. I can’t throw that out.”
And she plans to keep the personalized cross-stitch next to her work computer, so she can see it every day. “I actually talk about Bill Gates a lot, and I know it sounds really cheesy, but I always said that if I won the lottery, I would give every penny to reforming the shelter system,” she said. “And that’s essentially what he stands for: Giving back and trying to change the world. So it’s an unbelievable inspiration to have this portrait of Bill and me in cross-stitch with cats.”
She posted a thank-you video to YouTube, which has grabbed 4,600 views and counting, which she hopes Gates clicks on so he can see how much his gifts mean to her.
“He’s always giving to everyone else. I feel like he cares about making people happy – and he really nailed it here,” she said.
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