A Run on the (Sperm) Banks
Donating may be a way to get rich quick, but the competition is tough.
Applications for sperm donation are way up across the country. And why shouldn’t they be? Selling sperm for cash has long been considered a get-rich-quick scheme of sorts for men during recessions.
Ty Kaliski, Director of Operations at Cryos International in New York told me that he’s seen an increase of 50-100 applicants a week.
Scott Brown, Communications Manager at California Cryo -- one of the nation’s oldest and largest sperm banks – told me that he’s seen a 15-20% increase in potential donors.
When asked why the applicants were interested in donating sperm, “the majority list an economic incentive,” Brown said. “But the majority also lists an altruistic interest.”
While it’s refreshing to think that thousands of young men are lining up to donate their DNA because it makes them feel good, the financial benefits of sperm donation are a more likely motivator.
At Biogenetics in Mountainside, New Jersey, men get paid $100 per sample. Donations are limited to a one-year window, but if you can manage two visits a week you could theoretically earn $10,400 (not to mention experiencing the rare, paternal joy of having fathered 104 kids).
Donors at Biogenetics can earn as much as $500 per sample if they enroll in a new program called Open ID that allows sperm recipients to meet the donors face to face.
So far only two individuals have participated in the new program.
But the surge in sperm donor applicants doesn’t mean more men are actually profiting. In this business, only the best and the brightest sperm ever make it to market.
When I asked Scott Brown at California Cryo about the basic requirements of being a sperm donor, it started off pretty basic. You have to live near the facility (you’ll be going there a lot), you have to be between 19 and 39, and you have to be in good general health.
But you also have to be 5’10 or taller, go through a series of interviews, take numerous semen and blood tests, submit a family history that goes back at least 3 generations, and have graduated from or be enrolled in a 4-year university. Oh, and the competition is stiff. Most of the accepted donors have gone to places like Stanford, Princeton, Yale, and UCLA.
“It’s easier to get into Harvard than Cryo,” Brown joked. “We have a lot of initial window shoppers.”
By the end of the screening process, only 1% of applicants ever see their sperm on Cryo’s sales rack.
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