In late July, the untended, bean-shaped swimming pool at Ken Robinson‘s Flower Mound home — that is, the house in which he lives — was a stew pot of viscous green slime. On a stifling midsummer evening, when he walked out the back door to vacuum one of many layers of filth, the water level was nearly at the lip of the concrete. If someone were to jump in, algae-filled slop would have spilled onto the patio. He ran to the hose spigot at the side of the house and cut off the water. This was his first time caring for a pool; he had a lot to learn.
As Robinson prepared to clean, a young couple knocked on the fence’s weathered gate. They had driven more than an hour to see him after watching him on a Channel 8 news report a week earlier. His story had since gone viral: “A $330,000 home for $16? This is not a normal process,” read Channel 8’s headline. “How to Get a McMansion for $16” ABC News‘ said. Soon, Robinson was opening fan mail from as far away as China and Thailand.
The week after Robinson moved into the tan-sided home with a faux stone entrance and maroon shutters, he was soaring, an Internet hero a few levels shy of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who last summer cracked a beer and left work on a plane’s emergency slide. For $16, Robinson had filed paperwork with Denton County staking his claim to the abandoned home through an obscure Texas law called adverse possession. Ever since, curious visitors, beginner real estate investors and people who want an ultra-cheap home to fulfill their version of the American Dream have been knocking on his door for advice and a handshake. Robinson estimates he hosted two visitors and received two letters from fans daily for weeks after the news broke. Read the complete story