Photo: Roman Belogorodov/Shutterstock

Stop Throwing 'Good Luck Coins' Everywhere You Travel

by Morgane Croissant Mar 13, 2024

There’s no such thing as good luck. There’s nobody sitting up in the sky, looking down at you and changing the course of history so that you can win two dollars on a scratch and win ticket. You can cross your fingers or hang horseshoes in your home all you want, the forces of the universe, whatever those may be, won’t conspire to bring you good fortune. And while you uncross your digits and remove the equestrian decor from your walls, remember to stop throwing ‘good luck coins’, too.

‘Good luck coins’ are not just obviously ineffective when it comes to bringing any sorts of blessing, they have become a plague that’s akin to litter in just about every tourist attraction in the world.

Case in point, less than four weeks ago, while x-raying their American alligators as part of the routine care provided to the animals, veterinarians at the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium found a total of 70 US coins in the stomach of Thibodaux, a 36-year-old specimen. The large reptile had to get anesthetized and undergo surgery to get the foreign objects removed. All of that just because visitors to the Nebraska zoo could not help but throw coins in the body of water located in the animal’s enclosure. Why would a pond of murky water meant for American alligators be a source of good fortune to anyone? Your guess is as good as mine.

Throwing coins can come from a good intention, such as making a donation to an attraction, but most often they’re tossed for dubious and selfish purposes, not as thoughtful offerings.

The only place where it is acceptable to throw ‘good luck coins’ is Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that if you turn your back to the Trevi fountain and throw a coin above your shoulder into its basin, you will come back to Rome. If you throw two coins, you’ll come back and fall in love. If you throw three coins, you’ll come back, fall in love, and get married. Millions of people throw their change in the fountain every year, and no matter what happens to them afterwards, the cash is picked up and given to Caritas, a Catholic charitable organization that works to end poverty. In 2022, $1.52 million was collected from the fountain, Reuters reports.

And if there is one place where you should never even consider throwing a ‘good luck coin’ in, it’s the engine of an airplane. Earlier this month, CNN reported that a passenger threw some coins in the engine of China Southern Airlines aircraft to guarantee a safe flight. The practice, which is extremely dangerous and can damage aircraft engines, is more likely to bring the opposite effect, i.e. a very hazardous situation. In this case, crisis was averted thanks to the keen eye of a flight attendant and the coins were retrieved from the engine, the passenger was taken away by the police, and the flight was delayed by a couple of hours. It’s not the first time travelers have thrown coins in plane engines in the hopes of bringing good luck. In 2019, a passengers boarding a Lucky Air flight (a Chinese low-cost airline) tossed some coins in the engine of the plane and caused $20,000 of damage and a 24-hour delay on the flight. Good luck did not prevail, unsurprisingly.

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