Golden Palace is a well-known online casino that gained notoriety in the early 2000s for its wacky and outrageous marketing stunts. One of their most famous tactics was buying bizarre items on eBay and using them to promote their brand. Of course, Golden Palace isn’t the first gambling business to use wild and wonderful marketing stunts to draw everyone’s attention to what they offer, as those that have read this site’s page on Paddy Power will know only too well. It is, though, a site that has pushed the boundaries to earn its place in the annals of crazy things.
The company began its life buying mad things from online auction sites in 2004 when it agreed to pay $28,050 for the ball that was allegedly kicked by David Beckham in a missed penalty. At this stage, we’re unaware of whether the company made a habit of paying large sums of money in order to buy the ball from bad penalties, which might help to explain some of the ones that we’ve seen over the years. In the years that followed, though, Golden Palace spent some huge sums on things that never should have seen the light of day, as we’ll explore here.
What Is Golden Palace?
Before we take a look at the mad things that Golden Palace has bought over the years, it is first worth exploring the company itself in more detail. GoldenPalace.com is, as the name suggests, an online casino. Operating under a licence from the Curaçao Internet Gaming Association, the company became relatively well-known for two reasons: crazy publicity stunts and huge bonuses that had to be wagered as much as fifty times before it would be paid out on. This, as you might imagine, was a cause of controversy and led to Microgaming refusing to work with the site.
Alongside buying weird and wonderful things in online auctions, Golden Palace also gained notoriety through several marketing stunts. These have ranged from paying boxers to wear temporary tattoos with the casino’s name on their back through to sponsoring a serial streaker named Mark Roberts. It hasn’t always been just about making money, however. In 2004, for example, the company sponsored Dennis Rodman’s participation in the Running of the Bulls, raising money for multiple sclerosis charities as a result. The stunts obviously worked when you consider that we’re writing about them.
The Auction Wins
After spending more than $20,000 to buy a football that David Beckham had kicked, Golden Palace obviously decided that enough attention had been raised to make it worth the company’s while to carry on spending large sums of money on stupid things. Here is a look at the ten oddest things that the online casino decided to invest its money in:
The Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Unless you’re a massive weirdo, there’s a very good chance that you’ll like a grilled cheese sandwich. Golden Palace took things one step further in 2004, paying a woman from Florida $28,000 after she claimed to have found an image of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich she’d made. She put the sandwich up for auction on eBay, and Golden Palace was the highest bidder for the holy snack. The sandwich became a pop culture sensation, and Golden Palace used it in their advertising campaigns.
What added to the ludicrousness of the whole situation was the fact that the women had made the sandwich ten years earlier, so it wasn’t even like it was fresh. The woman also presumably started eating the sandwich before she realised what she had in her hands, given the fact that there was a bite missing from the end of it. The work-from-home jewellery designer said, “I would like all people to know that I do believe that this is the Virgin Mary Mother of God.” She didn’t explain whether it was blasphemous to have taken a chunk out of the sandwich the image appeared on.
William Shatner’s Kidney Stone
During his time as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek films, William Shatner declared that he and his crew would ‘go boldly’ where no one had gone before. In 2005, the actor thought it was a sensible thing to do to sell his kidney stone via auction. Golden Palace bought the stone for $25,000 and used it to promote their online casino. They even held a contest to see who could come up with the best name for the stone, and the winning entry was “The Golden Palace Stone,” perhaps suggesting that customers of the online casino were not as inventive as Shatner.
Richard Rowe, the Chief Executive Officer of the online casino, tapped into the Star Trek themed language when he said, “This is a bold new addition to our fleet.” The money raised wasn’t for Shatner, but was instead for Habitat for Humanity, with the auction house President, Darren Julien, joking, “This would be the first Habitat for Humanity house built out of stone.” The casino had originally offered $15,000, but Shatner turned it down and put forward a counter-offer, suggesting that his Star Trek tunics had ‘commanded more than $100,000’.
A Ghost in a Jar
Anyone with half a brain knows that there is no such thing as ghosts, but in 2004 a man claimed to have captured the ghost of a young boy in a jar. He then chose to put it up for auction on eBay, with Golden Palace winning the bidding for it after paying $65,000 for the jar. The casino used the ghost in their advertising campaigns, claiming that it brought them good luck. Of course, if a casino is getting good luck then that means that the punters are not, so quite why anyone thought that it was a winning advertising campaign is difficult to understand.
The seller declared that he would not be held responsible for what happened if the ghost escaped the jar, which will have been precisely nothing when you consider that he was just selling an empty jar for $65,000. Interestingly, a few years later a DJ from Norton in the north-east of England decided to try to sell a ghost in order to make money for Cancer Research UK, but eBay cancelled the auction. They cancelled it on day six of the seven day auction, stating that they wouldn’t allow the sale of ‘intangible items or items whose existence cannot be verified on receipt of them, such as ghosts, souls, or spirits’.
Britney Spears’ Pregnancy Test
Whilst there are certainly some people out there weird enough to pay a lot of money for something that an attractive woman had urinated on, this is surely a story that takes the biscuit. In 2005, a hotel employee found a used pregnancy test in the trash can of Britney Spears’ hotel room. The employee sold it to a radio station, which put the test up for auction on eBay and Golden Palace bought it for $5,001. You might ask why, with the reason being that the casino used the pregnancy test in their advertising campaigns, claiming that it was proof that Britney Spears was a Golden Palace customer.
The test was originally ‘acquired’ by Hot 89.9, a music station based on Ottawa, with the proceeds of the purchase then going to charity. The two charities chosen to benefit this time were Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation and the Easter Seal Society. The thing that we don’t know is whether the hotel employee was sacked for taking a pregnancy test belonging to a celebrity and selling it, nor, indeed, whether the pregnancy test was even actually that taken by Britney Spears. She was pregnant thanks to her partner at the time, Kevin Federline.
A Corn Flake Shaped Like Illinois
In 2008, a man from Illinois put a corn flake up for auction on eBay that he claimed was shaped like his home state. Part of the reason you can tell Golden Palace is an online casino with a largely American audience is no one would bother trying to sell a corn flake shaped like Barnsley. They duly won the auction, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider that the casino agreed to pay $1,350 for a piece of breakfast cereal with a slightly odd shape to it. The casino then used the corn flake in their advertising campaigns, claiming that it was a lucky charm.
Whether or not Corn Flakes were all that pleased about another breakfast company’s name being used alongside their own isn’t clear. The sisters initially put the corn flake alongside a dime in photos in order to give a sense of its size. Quite why anyone would pay anything at all for a piece of breakfast cereal that is randomly shaped is difficult to tell, but given Golden Palace’s other wild and whacky purchases, this one isn’t actually all that unusual. Whether it was money well spent probably depends on how many people chose to head to the casino as a result.
A Woman’s Forehead as Advertising Space
It was June 2005 when Karolyne Smith decided that she wanted to get a new tattoo. Rather than get a boyfriend’s name on her arm or her favourite football team tattooed across her back, Smith decided that it made sense to sell the space on her forehead for advertising. She went onto eBay and put it up for auction, with Golden Palace paying $10,000 for the space via the site’s ‘Buy It Now’ function. The casino used the woman’s forehead to advertise their online casino, getting the words ‘GoldenPalace.com tattooed there, whilst the woman became a minor celebrity.
Smith earned the nickname ‘Forehead Goldie’ as a result of the stunt, which was particularly noteworthy for the fact that she was what you might describe as a typical ‘soccer mom’, with her long blond hair and golden skin. When Brent Moffatt found out what had happened the man known as the ‘human pincushion’ wanted to get a piece of the action. Things didn’t look as odd for him though, given that he was trying to set a record for the number of tattoos and piercings on his body. Having hoped to reach 1,000 piercings, he stopped at 702 when it became too painful.
The Pope’s Old Car
When Benedict XVI was made Pope, it wasn’t just the Catholics around the world that felt that they were blessed. A student named Benjamin Halbe also found himself in a position where his life was immeasurably improved thanks to the fact that he was able to sell the new Pope’s old car. Based in the west of Germany, Halbe bought it from his local Volkswagen dealer the previous month and only realised who had owned it before him when the registration papers arrived. As soon as he spotted it, he chose to put it onto eBay and more than 6.5 million people viewed the page.
He was soon hit with more than 1,000 messages asking questions about it. This was in spite of the fact that he wrote in the advert, “Unbelievable! This is not an ordinary car. Your driving will always be save [sic] and blessed in it. You won’t believe it, but the former car-holder was our new Pope, Benedict XVI. The car looks as if it was new due to the care it god [sic].” One buyer that didn’t ask questions was Golden Casino, who instead paid £128,000 for the vehicle as another one of the company’s famous publicity stunts. An eBay spokesperson said, “The winning bidder is someone who has often purchased unusual items in the past.”
The Madidi Titi Monkey
In 2004, a previously undiscovered species of money was found in the low-lying lands of Bolivia’s north-western territory. It was believed that it was not endemic to Bolivia, instead possible extended to the south of Peru. The monkey was first spotted in 2000 by Robert Wallace of the Wildlife Conservation Society and a Bolivian biologist named Humberto Gómez, but it was studied for years before being given its official status as a new species. Rather than giving it a name themselves, the discoverers chose to auction off the naming rights to raise funds for Fundación para el Desarrollo del Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas.
The non-profit organisation was responsible for maintaining the Madidi National Park, which was obviously seen as a worthy cause by Golden Palace, given the casino’s decision to win the bid. There were more than a dozen people bidding for the right to name the new money, but Golden Palace spent $650,000 to win and have it named the GoldenPalace.com monkey. Sometimes referred to simply as the Golden Palace monkey, its official name is the Madidi titi monkey and its conservation status is that it was one of the Least Concern monkeys around.