The Peculiar Truth about the Ping Pong Hustlers

  • In the mid-1960s, two young men, David and Jonathan, attended Goddard College, a liberal arts school in rural Vermont.
  • They traveled from college to college hustling unsuspecting people for cash. Here’s how.
  • David and Jonathan would play ping pong against one another, and David would always win… because Jonathan would secretly let him.
  • David would then goad onlookers to beat him at ping pong for money. But he had one stipulation. The challenger had to beat Jonathan at a game first for the same amount.
  • Jonathan, a slight fellow, seemed easy to defeat.
  • But David failed to mention that Jonathan was the New York State ping pong champion of 1964, one of the best players in the country.
  • He could win even when he spotted a competitor 15 points.
  • The hustle succeeded over and over, and David and Jonathan split the winnings.
  • David went on to Broadway fame as a playwright who wrote American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, and other successes.
  • Jonathan became a standup comedian best known for his animated series on Comedy Central in the 1990s.
  • They are lifelong friends David Mamet and Jonathan Katz.

Dan is the author of over a dozen novels. His latest is Tight Five.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store