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Dec. 26, 2019, 1:55 p.m. EST

‘Bill Gates is my Secret Santa!’

Michigan woman tells MarketWatch about the 81 pounds of loot the Microsoft founder gave her as part of Reddit’s gift swap

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By Nicole Lyn Pesce


YouTube/screenshot
Shelby, 33, got Bill Gates as her Reddit Secret Santa for Christmas 2019.

The 95th time’s the charm.

A Michigan woman who has participated in 95 RedditGifts exchanges just hit the jackpot this Christmas.

She finally got Bill Gates as her Secret Santa — and he sent her 81 pounds worth of books, treats and nerdy memorabilia, as well as a donation in her late mother’s memory to the American Heart Association.

“I always thought it would be super cool to be matched with him some day, but I never really would have expected this to happen to me,” Shelby, 33, a marketer from the Detroit metro area, told MarketWatch. (She asked to withhold her last name.)

In fact, when she went to pick up the box from FedEx /zigman2/quotes/203047719/composite FDX -3.28% , it was too big to fit in her car. They had to open it at the FedEx location, and pack the individually-wrapped presents into the trunk.

The Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.63% founder and America’s second richest man worth $106 billion joins RedditGifts’ Secret Santa exchange every year, and participants eagerly await to find out which one of them gets the tech titan and philanthropist as their holiday benefactor.


Courtesy of Shelby
Shelby had to open the box of gifts at FedEx, because it was too big to fit in her car.

Gates and his team appear to do their research year over year, gifting goodies that are perfectly tailored to each recipient’s taste. In 2018, a Virginia IT worker who loves crafting and sending letters was given a load of card-themed presents, plus a $500 donation to Rikki’s Refuge Animal Sanctuary in Virginia. The year before, a cat-loving Austin entrepreneur received a crate a kitty-centric gifts, including $750 in donations to her three favorite cat charities.

Read more: This lucky woman got Bill Gates as her Reddit Secret Santa

Shelby, who goes by Szor on Reddit , loves letting her geek flag fly. Her profile page shows her hugging beloved “Star Wars” character Chewbacca, and also references Harry Potter. So her holiday haul from Gates includes plenty of nods to her favorite movies, books and video games, including: a Harry Potter Santa hat and a pair of elaborate Lego building sets, including a giant Hogwarts castle from Harry Potter, and a retired R2D2 puzzle, since the Star Wars droid is “my spirit robot,” she said.


Courtesy of Shelby
Bill Gates sent Shelby 81 pounds of presents, including several hardcover books and Lego sets.

“Bill really did his research,” said Shelby, noting that she already has the two Lego sets, and is still deciding what to do with the new ones from Gates. “As for everything else, they are 100% what I would have bought for myself.”

There’s also a handmade quilt depicting scenes from Nintendo’s /zigman2/quotes/201616881/delayed NTDOY +2.08%   iconic “Legend of Zelda” video game series, which she believes was custom-made, since she can’t find another one like it online. And the crate is packed with tons of “Twin Peaks” memorabilia, including an embroidered L.L. Bean jacket worn by one of the crew members on set between 1990 and 1991, as well as five scripts from the second season.

One of “The Great Gatsby” lover’s favorite gifts, however, is a bound manuscript of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, complete with scans of the author’s handwritten notes as he was writing the novel.


Courtesy of Shelby
The gifts include a bound manuscript of “The Great Gatsby.”

“‘The Great Gatsby,’ is my favorite novel. I had some lines from ‘Great Gatsby’ in my wedding vows. So this really is a special book to me,” she said. “And it is the most fancy book I have ever seen. It almost feels like it needs a case with a spotlight to display it. It is so nice.”

But the most meaningful present was a donation for an undisclosed amount that Gates made to the American Heart Association in honor of Shelby’s mother, who passed away in March — and just 10 days before Shelby’s wedding.

“Your donation to The American Heart Association in my mom’s memory is the most special gift of all. It means more to me than I can express,” she wrote to Gates on Reddit. “This year has been a complete rollercoaster of emotions for me ... It has been hard to drum up holiday spirit this year, and this has been a taser of Christmas cheer.”

And in his letter accompanying the care package, which also includes a photograph of him signing it, to prove it’s authentic, Gates wrote: “I know no gift will ever make up for losing someone so important to you. I was very sorry to hear about your mom and I’ve made a donation to the American Heart Association in her memory. I hope you and your family find your new normal this holiday season.”


Courtesy of Shelby
Bill Gates also sent her a “Twin Peaks” crew member’s jacket.

Take a look at Shelby’s loot from Bill Gates here, which also includes several boxes of Oreos (“It’s been so much fun sharing them with my neighbors and coworkers, because everyone wants the ‘Bill Gates’ Oreos!”), treats for her cat, a hammock, eight hardcover books, and a cat-themed logic game:

And watch her initial “freak out” reaction video here:

“I’m definitely gonna keep participating in Reddit Gifts. It brings me a lot of joy,” Shelby said. “I can’t wait to continue, and to spoil more people with presents, and pass it forward.”

Related: ‘Bill Gates was my reddit Secret Santa!’

/zigman2/quotes/203047719/composite
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