We've written pretty extensively about the ongoing divorce between Oklahoma oil tycoon Harold Hamm and ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm. For those of you who are just tuning in to this insane legal battle, you can catch up on all the fascinating twists and turns that have gone down during previous few months by reading this article. For everyone who has been following this story, here's a couple quick facts you need to remember:
1) First off, back in November an Oklahoma judge settled the case by ordering Harold to pay Sue Ann $1 billion. Technically Harold was ordered to pay $974,790,317.77 because he had already handed over around $25 million worth of cash and real estate. Contrary to what you might assume, at the time of the initial judgment Harold was actually ecstatic. Ignoring the fact that this settlement would go down in history as the fourth most expensive divorce of all time, $1 billion was actually CHEAP compared to the $8-9 billion Sue Ann had been seeking. She vowed to appeal.
2) Secondly, it should be noted that back when Harold eagerly agreed to the $1 billion settlement, his net worth was $20 billion. Today his net worth is $9 billion. How'd that happen? As you probably have heard, in the last few weeks the price of a barrel of oil (the source of Harold's fortune) has dropped from over $100 to less than $50. In the process, the stock price of Harold's company Continental Resources has been obliterated. Subsequently, Harold has made a very quick reversal from his previous ecstatic outlook. He is now calling the $1 billion settlement "erroneous and inequitable".
Today we find ourselves at an impasse where both Hamms are pissed off. Harold thinks the payout should be adjusted way down to account for his drastically lower net worth. Sue Ann is still fighting for her share of his previous $20 billion net worth. What a mess.
And now there's another incredible twist to this story! Back in November when the judge ordered Harold to pay $974 million, he technically ordered him to pay $300 million cash before January 1st. He could pay down the remaining $674 million in monthly installments with interest over a period of several years.
For some reason, despite his tumbling net worth and a vow to appeal the decision, yesterday Harold actually decided to skip the installment plan and pay his ex-wife the full outstanding debt all at once. As we mentioned previously, that outstanding debt amounted to $974,790,317.77. Maybe he just wasn't psyched about all the interest that would pile up if he spread $674 million out over a few years.
And how did Harold deliver this gargantuan sum of money? He wrote a check of course! Below is a copy of that amazingly large hand-written check. FYI, Sue Ann has already gone ahead and rejected the check because she "did not want to risk the dismissal of her appeal by acceptance of the benefits."
I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I could ever reject a $974 million check, no matter how much I hated my ex. I mean, just imagine the look on your bank teller's face when you slip that baby under the glass deposit window…
The Largest Check Ever Written?
If Harold's check had been accepted and deposited by Sue Ann, would that make it the largest check ever written? Nope. Not by a long shot. That record belongs to Japanese investment bank Mitsubishi UFJ which wrote a $9 billion check to acquire Morgan Stanley in October 2008 at the height of the worldwide financial markets. If you've never heard the story of how these events came to be, you must read this article.
So what would you do if you were in Sue Ann Hamm's (presumably very expensive) shoes? Would you deposit the check? Take the money and run? Or tear it up and keep fighting for billions more???