5 WTF-Worthy eBay Auctions

Ransom Riggs

1. A role in a Stephen King novel

In 2005, this popped up in a charity auction on eBay, from author Stephen King: "One (and only one) character name in a novel called CELL, which is now in work and which will appear in either 2006 or 2007. Buyer should be aware that CELL is a violent piece of work, which comes complete with zombies set in motion by bad cell phone signals that destroy the brain. Like cheap whiskey, it's very nasty and extremely satisfying. Character can be male or female, but a buyer who wants to die must in this case be female. In any case, I'll require physical description of auction winner, including any nickname (can be made up, I don't give a rip)."

The winning bid was more than $20,000, made by a Florida woman named Pam Alexander. The role was a gift for her brother, Ray Huizenga, who actually got the honor of being immortalized as a blood-soaked zombie killer who later commits suicide in one of Stephen King's lesser-known works. That's one to tell the grandkids about.

2. Nicholas, the unwanted brussels sprout

After a less-than-successful Christmas dinner -- diner Leigh Knight didn't much care for the sprouts that ended up on his plate -- a single specimen of the boiled side-dish was put up for auction on eBay. It would be packed in dry ice for shipping, Knight promised, and all proceeds would go to benefit the Cancer Research UK foundation. After a few days of frenzied bidding (during which Nicholas the sprout could not have been improving much in terms of either texture or flavor), the auction was won by a man named Phil for £1,550.

3. New Zealand

New Zealand, as I can personally attest, contains many priceless natural wonders and its people are a pleasant and resourceful lot. But a longstanding friendly rivalry between Southern hemisphere neighbors New Zealand and Australia tends to result in a lot of salty jokes being passed back and forth between the two countries, a bitter rift perhaps best exemplified by Flight of the Conchords:

In retaliation, perhaps, a few years ago an Australian tried to sell New Zealand on eBay. (His selling points included "very ordinary weather" and "the dodgiest America's Cup win ever.") His starting bid? Just $0.01 Australian dollars. Six thousand hits later, the bid was up to $3,000, and New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, was miffed. "I don't think it's fun. I think that kind of nonsensical stupidity, I'll leave to the tabloid media," he said. The auction was pulled down.

4. The German language

In 2004, the German Language Association posted an auction for the German language, with a starting bid of 10 million Euros. If that sounds a little high, that was the point: it's valuable, the Association wanted to point out, and being corrupted by the increasing use of Pidgin English in everyday German conversations. Good point, guys, but is an eBay auction really the best way to protest the influence of pop culture?

5. The town of Bridgeville, California

A town of about 20 in Northern California, Bridgeville doesn't even have one horse. What it does have is eight houses, a post office, and three cows, all of which were put on the auction block by owner Bruce Krall for $1.75 million in 2005. It had been auctioned off a few years earlier, but after the winning bidder went to Bridgeville to check out his new town, he backed out of the deal -- apparently it wasn't in such great shape.

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