HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – An online casino forked over $28,000 Wednesday to the owner of a 10-year-old, partially eaten cheese sandwich thought to be embedded with the image of the Virgin Mary – and then sent the “religious icon” on a world tour.
GoldenPalace.com had secured the winning bid for the sandwich Monday after the grilled cheese received more than 1.6 million hits on eBay. On Wednesday, GoldenPalace delivered the check to owner Diana Duyser at an Indian casino in Florida.
A security guard and velour rope protected the framed snack during a ceremonial exchange.
“It represented something that we believed to be a piece of Americana pop culture,” said Steve Baker, CEO of Cyber World Group, GoldenPalace’s Canada-based parent. He said the company had expected “minimum value” – and “a laugh and a hoot about it,” but admitted: “It’s taken on more of a life of its own than we ever imagined.”
Duyser, a 52-year-old jewelry designer, is convinced she cooked up an image of the Virgin Mary for breakfast 10 years ago. When she took her first bite, “I spit it back out,” she recalled.
“I was just shocked. It scared me, really,” she said, sporting a T-shirt declaring: “Passion of the Toast” superimposed at the bottom of the sandwich.
GoldenPalace.com promotes the sandwich as a “religious icon” with a “mystifying image,” and is sending the snack on a world tour.
“By taking her all over, other people will have some of the pleasure that I did,” Duyser said.
Jim DeFede, a columnist for The Miami Herald, has volunteered to drive the framed sandwich to Vegas over Thanksgiving, with a stop along New Orleans’ Bourbon Street likely.
“I’ll miss her greatly because she was a comfort to me in times when it wasn’t so easy,” said Duyser, a Baptist whose husband suffers from emphysema.