At the Krusty Krab, a guy dressed in a suit comes to the door. Mr. Krabs believes him to be a tax collector and panics, until the man shows his business card, which identifies him as an employee of "R.A. PennyPincher Vending Supplies". Mr. Krabs is overjoyed as the delivery men bring the claw vending machine that he ordered into the Krusty Krab. Mr. Krabs explains that it will "pay for itself in no time" and insists that SpongeBob and Squidward try it, giving them each a free quarter.
Squidward plays the machine, and almost picks up a stuffed snake and loses. He excitedly exclaims to SpongeBob that he "almost got that on his first try!" When SpongeBob tries the machine, Squidward expects him to lose, but SpongeBob effortlessly wins a toy from the crane, and then another.
Later on, SpongeBob continues to effortlessly win several more stuffed animals from the machine. Squidward desperately tries to win, even using his money from payday but he still does not win.
When Squidward goes home, he finds he cannot do anything because of the crane, and he caves in, convinced he must win. He puts back on his normal clothes, gets his piggy bank and runs to the Krusty Krab and tries the crane again until the next morning, but to no avail. Mr. Krabs then empties the machine and finds an enormous amount of Squidward's money, along with the deed to his house. SpongeBob tells Squidward the secret to winning, which is to be the crane, and he wins a teddy bear and rubs it in everyone's face.
At the end of the day, Squidward walks home with SpongeBob, and sees a construction site. He operates the unoccupied crane with his eyes closed and picks up a girder, but he cannot apply the same secret with that type of crane. He destroys a mall and the Krusty Krab. SpongeBob tries to rescue him but only picks up Squidward's toy as the episode ends.
This is one of the few episodes where Mr. Krabs is shown paying SpongeBob and Squidward, and given the amount of quarters he gave Squidward, he apparently pays them a standard worker's salary, in contrast to numerous claims of them being underpaid in other episodes.
Running Gag: Squidward losing and SpongeBob winning at the skill crane.
Squidward's obsession with the crane and the way the crane kept calling his name is similar to the episode "The Fever" in "The Twilight Zone."
When Mr. Krabs walks away with Squidward's deed to his house, Mr. Krabs puts it in his pants, but it disappears as he walks.
The quarters are gold in this episode not silver, in the other episodes they are regular silver.
At first, the Skill Crane says "You Win," but when SpongeBob wins the last time, it says "Winner."
There were only three construction workers running with SpongeBob back to the Krusty Krab, but when Squidward was about to leave, there were nine construction workers. Although, the shot probably didn't include all of the workers running with SpongeBob.
When SpongeBob shows Squidward the secret to winning the crane, the machine says "winner;" however, no prize comes out the machine slot.
When Squidward said "DON'T BE THE CRANE!" the moving animation freezes until the next shot.