May 24, 2012 -- When Toronto resident Alex Kenjeev realized he was finally in a position to pay off more than $114,000 in student loans, he wanted to make it memorable. He did so by paying his debt all at once—in cash.
His feat went viral when he posted a photo of the receipt for $114,460 (US $111,350) on his Facebook page.
"I thought it would be funny, mind you, not for the world, just for me," he told ABCNews.com. "I didn't expect it to go viral at all."
Kenjeev is the president of O'Leary Ventures, a company that invests in and supports start-ups. The company is owned by Kevin O'Leary, an entrepreneur who appears as on ABC's "Shark Tank." On the show, business hopefuls pitch their ideas to a panel of successful entrepreneurs, or "sharks," who decide if they will invest in them.
The debt was for Kenjeev's undergraduate degree from McGill University and law school and an MBA from the University of Toronto.
After finishing school, Kenjeev said he wasn't paying his debt "aggressively." Instead, he was putting most of his money into a software start-up. When he recently sold the "very profitable" start-up, he had enough money to pay the loan in one fell swoop.
He went to his local Royal Bank of Canada and asked to withdraw $114,460. The bank that held the loans was different than where he keeps his money.
"Their initial reaction was they didn't want to do it," he said. "Then they said, 'We can't give you this much.' And I said, 'What do you mean? I deposit my money here with the expectation that I can take it out. Is this not what banks have been doing for hundreds of years?'"
The bank told Kenjeev he would have to pay the transport fees to have the money delivered by armored truck. He asked them to make sure of that and went home.
The next day, he received an email from the bank saying that they could give him the money. He went back and they took him into a small window-less back room where they counted out the money.
"I put it into a grocery bag and walked a couple blocks to the other bank," he said. "I tried to play it cool."
He told the Scotiabank branch that he wanted to make a deposit in the account with a balance of negative $114,460.
When the teller asked how much he wanted to deposit, he said, "'Oh, the same amount that you see there. Here you go.' And I sort of plopped it down on the counter. She didn't want to accept it initially."
After more than an hour, the bank accepted the money and Kenjeev sauntered out debt-free.
"When I walked out of the bank, I was feeling pretty happy," he said. "I spontaneously snapped a photo of the receipt and posted it to my Facebook wall."
People on Facebook began commenting on the image, some congratulating him and others criticizing him for bragging. Someone put the photo on Reddit and it garnered thousands of comments, many of which were critical. Kenjeev said he had no intention of rubbing anything into people's faces.
"I really wasn't thinking about that, to be fair," he said. "It was a milestone moment in your life, when you become debt-free, and not everyone had a receipt, but I did because of the way I did it."
Kenjeev has been keeping busy preparing for O'Leary Ventures to launch their own wine and mortgage companies later this year, but has also been enjoying life as a debt-free man.
"It feels good," he said. "It feels like a weight has been lifted."
In the U.S., some $1 trillion in student loan debt is outstanding. What a pile of cash that would make.