“Do you smell(llllllllllllla) what The Rock is cookin’?”
–Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
When I was a kid, I was a fanatical professional wrestling fan. There was a local television station on VHF that had pro wrestling on from 8 PM to 2 AM on Saturday nights. I would watch it, and then, embarrassed about my fandom, I’d switch the channel to something else if I heard my mother coming in. If there’s an obscure fact about professional wrestling from the early 1980s, chances are that I either know the answer or have at least heard of it.
So, in 2000, when I had a chance to meet Linda McMahon, the then president and CEO of World Wrestling Federation (which would later be renamed World Wrestling Entertainment because of a dispute with the World Wildlife Fund…panda huggers…grr…), I was ready to jump on the opportunity. I got invited to help take part in a SmackDown the Vote campaign to register voters in Washington, DC, and, along with wrestlers like the previously quoted Rock, Mrs. McMahon was going to attend to take the opportunity to speak to members of Congress.
I was in my first year of law school at the time. I figured that if I had the right elevator speech, I could wrangle an internship with the WWF. I even purchased a share of WWF stock just so I could say I was a shareholder.
After a rally in front of the White House, we were taken to Congress and given the opportunity to meet the wrestlers. Even though I was star-struck, I kept my focus on my target. When Linda McMahon got out of the vehicle which was transporting her, I struck.
The Elevator Pitch of a Lifetime
It’s not easy pushing professional wrestlers who weigh over a hundred pounds more than you out of the way (yes, even the “small” wrestlers are huge in real life), but I somehow managed to part a path that Moses would have been proud of in my quest to be the first person to Mrs. McMahon. Fortunately, there was a huge crowd around The Rock and nobody seemed too interested to talk to her, so I got first crack.
Credit card debt gave me a Stone Cold Stunner. – Click to Tweet.
I felt like Ralphie from A Christmas Story when he finally came to his senses and crawled back up the slide to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas. The words came sprinting out of my mouth, tripping over each other and running over themselves like lemmings trying to run into the sea.
I think my pitch was something along the lines of
“Mrs. McMahon, my name is Jason Hull, and I am a shareholder of WWF and a student at the University of Virginia law school. I’ve been an avid WWF fan all my life and would love to have the opportunity to speak with the right person at your company about an internship this summer.”
I think the reality of what I said was more like
pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease” (getting down on knees and begging while holding back bawling tears)
Regardless of the reality of what I said, something struck a chord (of pity? of compassion?) in the heart of Mrs. McMahon, as she gave me her e-mail address and told me to send a resume.
Buoyed by this news, I may or may not have broken several speed limits on the drive back to Charlottesville, such was my eagerness to connect as soon as humanly possible.
Soon thereafter, I received an email from Edward Kaufman, the general counsel of the WWE offering me an internship.
I was over the moon.
Until I read the remainder of the e-mail. WWF wanted me, but, unfortunately, would only be able to offer me an unpaid internship. I had another offer on the table, and it was a paying internship with a law firm in Atlanta.
Money or love?
It’s the question that most of us wrestle with (har!) at least philosophically. The reality of my situation sank in. Not only was I saddled with credit card debt, I was just at the beginning of three years of graduate school and the appurtenant student loans which came with it.
I had very little income from teaching LSAT, GMAT, and GRE courses for Kaplan.
I had no emergency fund.
I had a bunch of debt.
I needed the money.
Despite the panging and hurt in my heart, I needed a job that would pay me enough to let me pay off the credit card debt.
So, with tears in my eyes (well, not really), I wrote the response letter respectfully declining the internship and promising to reconnect once I graduated from law school.
I then subsequently transferred to the business school, and lost my connection with Mrs. McMahon and pro wrestling.
It was a chairshot from which my heart never quite recovered.
Has your financial situation ever caused you to miss out on something you desperately wanted? Tell us your story in the comments below. No illegal punches, kicks, or tag teams allowed!