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In the 1995 comedy musical movie "Cannibal! The Musical", there is a song called "That's All I'm Askin' For!". Part of the song goes like this:

It ain't a lot to ask. I'm sure we'll get it fast. A friend of mine was mining and he made a lot of cash. He made a gazillion dollars, how is that! That's all I'm askin' for!

Emphasis mine.

Full lyrics: https://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/cannibal/thatsallimaskingfor.htm

Video clip of the part I quoted: https://youtu.be/xkmHnswr0yk?t=98

I have two theories:

  1. It could mean that he's using "how is that!" as a "question", as in "How is that, huh? Pretty large amount of money, isn't it?!" to basically brag and encourage the others to go along with the journey.
  2. It could also mean that he's saying "how is that!" as in "how did he make a gazillion dollars, huh? We can, too!". That is, he is using the "fact" that his friend made a "gazillion" dollars as a reason for them to also make that amount.

Maybe I didn't describe the two different meanings too well, but there's at least a slight difference between them.

So which one is it? A lot of expressions like this are very ambiguous to me as a non-native English speaker.

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    To me, and without further context, I would say that it means "That's good, isn't it?" Probably a shortened form of "How is that for an example of success?" - So basically, it is your first explanation. – Greybeard Apr 1 at 14:59
  • It either means "how good is that" or "how could that happen". Unclear which. – Hot Licks Apr 1 at 15:15
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    In the clip, the singer is not asking a question, but remarking on the wonderful news. How cool is that, huh? – Yosef Baskin Apr 1 at 15:30
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    I'm voting to close this question because interpretation of song lyrics is off-topic. Since the ambiguity exists, the only person who can answer this definitively is the author. Everything else is just opinion. – Jim Apr 1 at 15:47
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    Also (in addition to my answer), we know it's not #2 because we already know how he made a gazillion dollars: mining. – Tinfoil Hat Apr 2 at 1:33
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How is that is elongated for song rhythm from How's that?, which is the short form of the idiomatic rhetorical question How's that for ____ ? So:

How's that for making money?

which means:

Isn't that a remarkable instance of making money?

Shortened up again:

Isn't that remarkable?

See:

Lexico's definition for how's that for —? at how

Longman's definition at how’s that for sth?

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The way I read it, your first possibility is the right one. It's like saying How about that? or What do you think of that? or *Imagine that!" or How do you like that? or How's that for you?

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    Please consider including citation, source, and possibly a link to support your supposition. Without support, this is only an opinion. We don't do opinions here. – Rattler Apr 1 at 16:56

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