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By George, New Dollar Coin Is Hot!

May 25, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

In March, the U.S. Mint introduced its new Sacajawea Golden Dollar with a series of ads featuring a studly, modern-day George Washington. George, an animated coin face on a real actor's body, pays for a bunch of stuff with the new dollar coin, which has been enlarged to saucer-size for the TV audience.

"It's money," he explains coolly in the spot.

Well, it looks like the swingin' Georgie ads (which have nothing to do with Sacajawea, but that's another story) may have worked too well. No one seems to be able to get their hot little hands on a single Sacajawea simoleon.

Apparently, that's because collectors are hoarding them, according to Jennifer Arnold, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Mint.

"People are collecting them instead of using them," she said. "We are encouraging people to keep one or two and put the rest into circulation."

She likened the Golden Dollar coin rush to the Royal Canadian Mint's release in 1987 of a new dollar coin. Canadians flocked to the "loonie," which depicts a swimming loon. It took Canadians nearly a year to get them into circulation, Arnold said.

Believe it or not, there are 600 million of the shiny new coins out there, and, Arnold said, 6 million more are minted every day. The U.S. Mint expects Sacajawea's luster to wear off by midsummer, and then the coin will move into regular circulation.

In the meantime, Arnold said, anyone can get them at a bank or order them online at http://www.usmint.gov.

Twenty-five coins cost $35.50 or 2,000 for $2,190. (That's right, you get to pay for money. Very Samuel Beckett, no?)

(Don't think of the hefty markup as a tax . . . it's a processing fee, according to Arnold.)

Must be one heck of a process. Ka-ching!

*

At least a dozen readers have responded to Tuesday's column about the 99 Cents Only store. . . . I'd especially like to thank the reader who e-mailed to tell me that the discount mecca has a bridal registry.

Imagine . . . just $50 could buy a newlywed couple a lifetime of laughs (and Bicycle Beer).

*

Although many Web sites are devoted to the suddenly unavailable basketball hottie Kobe Bryant, his agent e-mailed to inform me that the Laker guard's official site is http://www.kobebryant.com.

(I had mistaken a fan site for the official one.)

Maybe if we send Kobe enough e-mails, he'll change his mind about taking the plunge. . . .

*

Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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