Cars in the Will

Nov 30, 2009

RAY: A rich old geezer passes away. When the lawyer reads the will, he's surprised to find out that the old geezer left his entire estate to his three nephews, Chip, Skip and Nunzio.

But the old man had the good sense to spend most of his money on women and wine. The only thing he had left was 17 sports cars. So the lawyer and the three legatees -- Chip, Skip and Nunzio -- show up at the carriage house to look at the cars.

The lawyer says, "Your uncle left one-third of the cars to Chip, half of the cars to Skip, and a ninth of the cars to Nunzio." Chip, Skip and Nunzio look at each other and say, "What the heck do we do now? There are 17 cars."

They don't know how to divvy them up. The lawyer's no help. They're ready to duke it out when who should waltz in but our old friend Crusty.

Crusty proposes a solution. What did he propose and, more importantly, why did it work?


RAY: Here's the answer. The first nephew Chip inherited a third of the 17 cars. Skip, the second guy, is going to get half the cars. And Nunzio is going to get one-ninth of the cars.

So Crusty comes along and says, 'Look guys, I'll lend you my '52 Studebaker so now you can divide up 18 cars.'

So Skip says great, 'I'll take half of the cars, or nine cars.'

Chip says, 'I'll take a third, that's six cars.'

And Nunzio says, 'I'll take one-ninth or two cars.' Now if you add those up it's 17 cars. So Crusty gets his '52 Studebaker back and everything's done and everyone's happy.

TOM: Wow.

RAY: Well, the reason it works is that, if you are astute like my brother, you'll notice that half plus a third plus a ninth do not add up to one. The old geezer originally had 18 cars.

TOM: But Crusty stole one, a'52 Studebaker!

RAY: But because they don't add up to one, in fact when each gets his nine or six or two cars, it's actually more than the old man wanted to give each in his will.

TOM: But it does work out proportionately.

RAY: So to speak. And they didn't have to get the Sawzall out. So who's our winner?

TOM: Our winner this week is Christopher Crow from Westfield, Massachusetts. And for having his answer selected from the dumpster full of correct answers that we got, Chris is going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, with which he can get a copy of our new music CD, Stairway to Heapdom.

RAY: Congratulations, Christopher!

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