London: Olympic torchbearers have cashed in on their once-in-a-lifetime privilege by selling their torches on eBay. Before the first day of the relay was completed, the gold torches appeared on the online auction site.
Bids of up to £150,000 (Rs 1.3 crore) have been made — but some are thought to be false offers from bidders angered by the sales. The torches are worth £495 (Rs 43,000) but were sold to bearers for £295 (Rs 25,000), said a London 2012 official.
He added: “They’re theirs.” Sarah Milner Simonds, from Burnham-on-Sea, has received a bid of more than £150,000 for her Olympic torch on eBay.
“It only occurred to me to do it on Saturday night,” she said. “The sale closed last night at 10 o’clock and the final bid was £153,000 (Rs 1.33 crore).”
The torchbearer, who was nominated for her work as a community gardener for the People’s Plot, said she put her torch up for sale to raise money for the project she represents.
But she said she was dismayed that people who objected to her decision had started sending her abusive e-mails. “Obviously it has really upset people but I think that it’s not something that is really me to keep my shiny trophy on a mantelpiece when it is obvious how much good one can do with the money that someone might be willing to pay for it.”
Milner said she still needed to check if the £153,000 bid was genuine. “It is an extraordinary amount of money, but of course when I realised that the first torch was on eBay and sold for over £3,000 (Rs 2.60 lakh) I thought ‘Oh my gosh, that is obscene, imagine what good you could do with £3,000’.”
Another seller Andrew Bell, of Probus, Cornwall, said: “I understand some people may find the idea of a sale offensive. Without giving you a sob story, we’ve had a baby and my wife has just gone back to work. It is nearly a metre long and looks weird on the mantelpiece.”
Some torchbearers have pledged to donate the proceeds from the sale to charity. Sellers have also auctioned off the uniform they wore while carrying the flame. The London 2012 torch relay entered its third day yesterday
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