Bottle-signing tickets fetch top dollar on eBay

Big Blue bottle madness has gone online.

With just 24,000 commemorative Maker's Mark bourbon bottles featuring University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari's image — and only 1,200 to be signed Friday at Keeneland — those who got shut out were feeling the pinch.

So they turned to eBay, where a ticket for just a spot in line was listed at $325 Thursday. That didn't include the bottle.

The tickets were distributed for free (with a $1 handling fee) last weekend on Ticketmaster and sold out in less than a minute.

One optimist was asking $800 for a bottle to be signed Friday morning by Calipari and others.

When Ron Bell of Lexington saw prices like that, he decided to put his bit of waxy blue heaven, with signing ticket No. 73, on the block. He got more than a dozen bids before accepting a private offer of $350, he said.

"I was surprised," Bell said. He said the buyer said "they wanted to meet Calipari. ... I think that's why I got so much."

Bell, who bought two bottles when they went on sale last weekend and got two tickets, gave one set to his son, Damien, who he said was planning to go to Keeneland for the 8 a.m. bottle signing.

Ron Bell said he's a collector and has been to every previous signing but will give this year a pass.

"I bleed blue," said Bell, a UK graduate, "but I'm not insane."

Starting at 11 a.m. Friday, Keeneland's gift shop will sell empty commemorative bottles. The track announced that, due to demand, Calipari will host an empty-bottle signing at UK after the spring meet. Details will come later this month.

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