Value is often in the eye of the beholder on eBay, where the weird and strange often go for astronomical prices despite what might be their lack of value in other contexts. Add celebrity items into the mix and often you have even more bizarrely high sales for odd objects.
But when Wil Wheaton combined his celebrity power with one of the oddest objects of all—a dented ping pong ball from his garage—not even he was prepared for the response.
Auctioning off the item as “A crappy dented ping pong ball I found in my garage and made popular on twitter,” Wheaton provided the necessary background context to propel the ping-pong ball, which he nicknamed Silas, to stardom. Spinning a profound tale of isolation and triumph against the odds, Wheaton wrote:
“Silas was the one ping pong ball in the box that all the other balls made fun of, because he had a name they didn't understand and he liked to read books instead of going to parties -- what the hell is wrong with those other balls? Not everybody likes to go to parties, okay, mom? Maybe I just want to sit in my room and read the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy and maybe look at some dirty pictures on the internet when I'm done. GOSH!
But now the joke is on the other balls in the box, because nobody remembers them or even cares where they are, and now Silas is Internet Famous for, like, maybe two whole days.”
Wheaton’s to-good-to-be-true sales pitch guaranteed buyer’s remorse: It’s a product worth less than the cost of shipping, and it has a total inability to be used for actual Ping-Pong. He did, however, throw in the helpful tip: “Also, you need to learn to juggle, because it's a useful skill that doesn't impress many people, but WOAH is it satisfying when you throw torches around and don't catch yourself on fire.”
His Twitter followers promptly lapped it up. Bids poured in, and a shocked Wheaton noted that with three days remaining in the auction, the ball had already garnered over $1,000 in eBay bids.
The story behind the ball was prototypical of most eBay sellers: Wheaton tweeted he was simply cleaning out his garage when he found the Ping-Pong ball. (We’re also intrigued by what appears to be a salvaged box of original Star Trek: The Next Generation shooting scripts.) Public interest soared, and Wheaton agreed to auction off the Ping-Pong ball and donate the proceeds to the Pasadena Humane Society, with humorous antics along the way. Wheaton also auctioned off other odds and ends from his garage, and graciously offered to throw in “a small piece of bagel” if the Ping-Pong ball auction made it to the $1,500 mark.
Of course, replicas and knockoffs sprouted up on eBay, sporting slimmer price tags. Will Silas’ $50 competition threaten his chance to hit the $1,500 mark? Though the bidding currently seems to have stalled at $1,135 and 82 bids, with a day and a half left, it’s anyone’s game.
In keeping with the horde-summoning ability that has made him the Internet’s most well-known celebrity blogger, Wheaton promptly overloaded his servers and crashed his website as soon as it relaunched.
Crashing his website two minutes after he linked to it on his Twitter? Racking up over a thousand dollars for a dented Ping-Pong ball?
All evidence that Wheaton’s social media prowess is a special kind of mojo—unfortunately not for sale on eBay.
Photo via Wil Wheaton/eBay