LOUISVILLE — A 16-pound country ham fetched a $100,000-a-pound winning bid from two Louisville businessmen in a record-breaking charity auction on Thursday.
The winning bid of $1.6 million at the 47th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast came from Bernard Trager, chairman of Republic Bank and Trust, and Dr. Mark Lynn & Associates, owner of Dr. Bizer's Vision World.
Each contributed $800,000 for the ham produced by Broadbent B&B Foods of Kuttawa.
Trager came up with the idea of combining the bids, sending a message across the room to Lynn to see if there was mutual interest in the idea. Lynn — a first-time attendee at the auction — agreed.
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"They came over and said, 'Let's both do it for $800,000,'" said Lynn. "I thought why not? It's for charity, and everybody wins that way."
Dr. Mark Lynn & Associates indicated it plans to donate its bid to the University of Louisville, Visually Impaired Preschool Services and Eastern Area Community Ministries.
Republic Bank and Trust did not specify the recipients of its donation, but said most would go to local health care and education.
While no goal is set for the ham's top bid each year, Kentucky Farm Bureau has now helped raise more than $5.6 million for local charities, educational and philanthropic groups through the 47-year history of the auction.
The auction's humble beginnings — a respectable $124 winning bid at the first event in 1964 — have grown exponentially in recent years. The average price of the auctioned ham over the last 10 years is now $462,048.