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eBay pulls auction for U.S. presidency

By Joe Wilcox
Staff Writer, CNET
November 13, 2000, 2:40 PM PT

update How much is the presidency worth?

Not enough for online auction site eBay.

With confusion increasing over who will be the 43rd president of the United States, one eBay auctioneer had put the presidency up for bid.

But the bidding did not last long, as eBay yanked the item, as it has done with undeliverable or illegal auctions in the past. Other auctions pulled have included 500 pounds of marijuana and a human kidney.

Item No. 497945868 Want election news? Get it here went up for bid around 9:50 a.m. PST Monday, with bids open for 10 days. Opening at one penny, the bid for the presidency had rocketed to $100 million by 2 p.m. PST. Shortly after, eBay closed down the auction.

The auctioneer,, explained the purpose in the item's description area. "Due to the recent ballot confusion in Florida the Presidential election process has been cancelled for this term," the auctioneer wrote. "It has now been granted to the common citizen the chance to be President."

In the auction description, mamono said that the highest bidder would be sworn in as the 43rd president Jan. 20 and could select the vice president of his or her choice. To qualify, bidders must be 35 or older, be a U.S. citizen, and have no felony convictions.

"At the end of the auction the high bidder will be flown in to Washington, D.C., to prepare for inauguration ceremonies and prepped for presidential duty," mamono wrote. "We feel this is a unique opportunity for Americans and depending on the results will consider future governmental positions to be selected in this manner."

Auction site eBay has 2,774 auctions containing the word "president" currently under way, many offering paraphernalia, such as "Bush Wins" newspapers. At one point, more than 400 papers with the mistaken headlines were up for bid last week.

While the prankster cannot legally sell off the presidency, the auction underscores growing frustration over the election process, as candidates wrangle over the certification of Florida's 25 electoral votes.

On Tuesday, Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush won hollow victories in the recount process, with a federal court refusing a Republican request to halt a manual recount in four counties, and a decision by Florida's attorney general not to extend the Tuesday 2 p.m. PST deadline for counting votes. The latter decision makes completing the hand recount nearly impossible, said election officials.

The official tally of 66 out of 67 Florida counties puts Bush ahead by 961 votes, not including absentee ballots. An unofficial tally by the Associated Press narrows the lead to 387 votes.

With a Friday recount in New Mexico putting that state's five electoral votes in question, Gore's lead narrowed to 255 electoral votes compared with Bush's 246 votes. Unless potential recounts in other states further shift the balance, whichever candidate takes Florida would get the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency.

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