TUCSON, Ariz. A Wisconsin man gave up a real wad $10,000 for the gnawed-on chewing gum of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez.
It was all for charity, of course.
The bid for Gonzo's gum has gripped fans and curious others for more than a month, from Arizona to Minnesota and Colorado. Now, even Gonzo's biggest fans can get a grip on getting on with life.
Jason Gabbert, owner of a sports memorabilia store in Wood Lake, Minn., and Johnjay Van Es of Tucson's KRQ radio confirmed the $10,000 bid Monday evening.
Gabbert said Curt Mueller, owner of Mueller Sports Medicine, made the bid.
Gabbert said he got the gum after asking a security guard to pick it up off the ground. The World Series champion had discarded it in the dirt during a March 7 spring training game in Tucson, where the Diamondbacks train.
Gabbert decided to auction the gum for charity on his store's Web site, with proceeds going to Lakeview High School in Cottonwood, Minn.
"Most of it we've agreed will go to a scholarship fund," Gabbert said Monday. He said he'd like the fund to be named after Gonzalez.
The gum's authenticity came into question when the security guard, through his boss, denied giving Gonzalez's gum to Gabbert.
Meanwhile, Van Es, a disc jockey, began publicizing the auction. He and Gabbert had decided to work together, taking bids through their Web sites.
The bidding, which started at around $20, moved to $600, then to $3,275 on April 8, when a college student topped by $75 an offer from the Topps Bubblegum Co. The student withdrew his bid Wednesday over concerns about the gum's legitimacy.
Finally, when talk turned to possible DNA testing, Gonzalez on Thursday chewed another wad of Bazooka in front of witnesses and TV cameras, sealed it in a plastic bottle and had it delivered to the radio station.
On Monday, bidding bumped up to $4,001, then $4,500 before it shot to $10,000 a few hours before the deadline.
"Whoever bids on it, they can have it," Gonzalez said last week. "I'm through with it. This is it. This is not a once-a-week bubble gum show."
Van Es, who noted that inadvertently "we became the gum escrow people," said he's also anxious for the gum adventure to wrap up. But it's not over yet.
On the Net: KRQ: www.krq.com
Gabbert's site: www.nocontraction.com