Is Harambe-shaped Cheetos snack really selling for $100K?

Posted: February 10, 2017 in Off the Beaten Math

Is Harambe-shaped Cheetos snack really selling for $100K?

In the tradition of Virgin Mary toast and Elvis potato chips, it appears that an individual Cheetos snack is about to be sold for the same price as a decent house.

An eBay auction listing the vaguely gorilla-shaped snack ended at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday with a winning bid of $99,900 out of 132 bids.

“I opened up a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and as soon as I looked inside I came across this unique Cheetos that looks like Harambe the gorilla,” the item description reads.

Harambe was a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot and killed after a small boy entered his enclosure in May 2016. Since then, Harambe has become a persistent presence on the internet spawning hundreds of memes.

Could this be an internet prank or a fake bidding war? There’s a chance, but the auction has some signs that point to it being authentic.

First, the starting price for the auction was about $11.99, meaning the seller, “valuestampsinc” didn’t list a high starting price or put a crazy reserve on the auction. But that doesn’t mean the seller wasn’t looking to make a profit.

An 8.5 ounce bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos costs $2.99 on Amazon and contains about 190 individual pieces, according to the nutrition facts on the bag.

That means an individual Cheetos snack costs 1.5 cents. $11.99 is nearly 800 times the price of the snack.

The next indication that the auction might be legitimate is that eBay lists 119 bids since the auction started on Jan. 28. Those bids also came from 37 different eBay accounts.

Could those all be fake accounts? Will the buyer back out after the auction is over? It could happen. During the reporting of this article, several top bids were withdrawn only to be replaced by others.

“Valuestampsinc” has been an eBay seller since Sept. 28, 2008, and the item location indicates the seller is likely based in Burbank, California. The account appears to mainly list DVDs, VHS tapes and Blu-Ray discs.

The seller has a 100 percent feedback rating over the past 12 months, and has completed 105 successful sales, according to the feedback history listed on eBay.

At 6 p.m. Monday, the current bid on the Cheetos snack resembling Cincinnati’s most famous gorilla was $99,999, 6.6 million times the initial cost.

It is worth noting that “valuestampsinc” listed the Harambe Cheetos snack in a previous auction for $14.99, but it received no bids.

If this auction does turn out to be legitimate with a real buyer, it wouldn’t be the first time someone attempting to make a joke on the internet had a real payday.

Zach Brown of Columbus launched a Kickstarter campaign in July 2014 with a goal of $10 to make a potato salad. The campaign raised $55,000 and Brown used extra funds to throw a giant party that October.

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