New Mexico Town Reaps Over $65,000 From Trashed Atari, 'E.T.' Games

Turning one company's trash into a community's treasure.

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Over 881 of the thousands of dumped games excavated from a New Mexico landfill have been auctioned off for a total of $107,930,15, with $65,037.78 going towards the city of Alamogordo.

“I would like to come back on September 22. I have some recommendations that I would like to present with the money,” Joe Lewandowski told Alamogordo city officials who were pleased with the find. A garbage contractor from the area, Lewandowski played a major role in uncovering the games. “The $65,000 is yours—you can do what you want with it, but I don’t want to see it go to pot holes or sewer lines.”

Last year, the urban legend that ‘70s/‘80s gaming giant Atari dumped thousands of unsold E.T., the adaptation of the Steven Spielberg classic for the Atari 2600 home console, in the New Mexico desert turned out to be true, for the most part. (It wasn’t all E.T., commonly known as the worst video game of all time.) The excavation unfolded for the Showtime and Xbox Entertainment documentary, Atari: Game Over, a movie that sought to uncover the fabled garbage.

The majority of the games, sold through eBay, have been shipped worldwide to buyers in Brazil, France, Singapore, Canada, and Australia. A tiny fraction of the salvage have been sent to museums and the filmmakers responsible for the dig. Over $100,000 were raised in the sale, with $65,037.78 going to the city that hosted the dig site.

So what could the minor tourist town of Alamogordo, pop. 30,403, remembered for the first atomic bomb testing and backdrops for the Transformers movies, do with over $60,000? Maybe make next year’s Alamogorod Hamfest the best it could be?

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