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Plugged In

Gearbox president buys Penn Jillette’s ponytail for $25,000

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Pitchford and Penn (Credit: Gearbox Software / Getty Images)

Randy Pitchford is not your traditional video game executive. The president and CEO of Gearbox Software is a shrewd businessman, a skilled poker player, and a former magician.

But the man behind games like Borderlands and Aliens: Colonial Marines is also a bit of weirdo, as evidenced by the fact that he just dropped $25,000 for the ponytail of magician/comedian/dancer/apprentice Penn Jillette.

The unusual purchase came as a result of a crowdfunding campaign Jillette and his friend Adam Rifkin are running for a "smart" horror movie called “Director's Cut.” The top-tier reward -- called "Big Spending Whales Get our Ponytails" -- promises not only an executive producer title to the person willing to cough up the cash, but a rather hirsute bonus.

"That's right, Adam and I are going to give one very lucky (and let’s say “eccentric”) contributor our actual ponytails," reads the description. "Chopped right off of our heads. You can brush them, braid them, sew them onto the backs of baseball hats, Hell, make voodoo dolls out of them for all we care. They'll make the perfect addition to anyone's creepy creepy collection of creepy creepy stuff [sic]."

Jillette -- who, in addition to his steady Vegas gig as the talking half of Penn & Teller, has appeared on both "Celebrity Apprentice" and "Dancing with the Stars" -- has offered up his ponytail before. In 2010 he donated his hair to Locks of Love, which provides wigs to kids undergoing chemo treatment for cancer.

Speaking with Kotaku, Pitchford said the donation was less about the hair and more about art.

"It's not about the pony tail and I haven't thought about what to do with it," he says. "But I'll chat with him about it and I'm sure between us we can come up with something clever that will amuse everyone who happens to be watching. Or maybe it just goes in a box. Or maybe it stays on his head."

Pitchford sad that as a content creator himself, he liked the idea of artists making a film their way rather than having to conform to what a studio wanted. And when he saw the funding campaign start to stall a bit, he decided to go all in.

"I seem to want to keep putting my extra scratch back into creative efforts," he says, later adding "I guess it's about helping out cool guys who are doing a cool thing their way. It's an artist thing."

Pitchford's donation has certainly boosted the campaign, but it still has a ways to go. With 12 days remaining, "Director's Cut" needs another $241,000 to reach its goal. Anyone want to buy Penn’s beard?

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