An adult-themed auction site was overwhelmed by visitors and ultimately crashed this week after word spread that it was auctioning an 18-year-old high school girl's virginity.
Bidding for the girl's virginity on xbay.com, an adult alternative to eBay, reached $21,000 in less than 24 hours thanks to a mention by Howard Stern on his nationally syndicated radio show. The traffic crashed the site and founder Mark Sherwood said he lost everything, including all of its current auctions, database information and the girl's contact information.
As for the legality of the auction, Canadian law officials told Sherwood he was protected through the disclaimer posted on the site. As for the girl, who says her name is Brenda, they told him the auction could be viewed as prostitution.
Sherwood posted the auction late Sunday evening. He said that prior to going to bed Sunday night the initial bid was $250, but Stern's mention the next morning resulted in 400,000 hits and a bidding war that reached $21,000 before the site went down.
“After everything crashed, I had to shut the site down for 48 hours,” he said. “I lost all 300 of the auctions that were going on. After putting the site back up on Tuesday night I have about 30 taking place right now.”
In the first 15 hours since the site's relaunch, Sherwood said there have been 128,000 hits, the majority of which he expects were people looking for Brenda. But at this point he is having as much luck as everyone else who is looking for her.
“I lost her contact information, so I can't track her down right now,” he said.
He said he hopes someone still has her e-mail address and will get it to him.
The legitimacy of the girl's offer remains a question mark. Sherwood said if it was someone playing a prank, she went through a lot to make it look legitimate.
“Whoever wrote said that they would have to verify phone numbers and see medical tests and records before anything happened,” he said. “The winner of the auction was also going to have to pay for the plane trip and all expenses.”
In her submission, the young woman wrote the following: “Hi, my name is Brenda and I am an 18-year-old virgin. I have decided to do something a little unusual and that is to profit from losing my virginity. It's a novel idea but I am prepared to do it (this is taking a lot of courage). This is a serious auction and only very serious bidders should bid. Please read all of the conditions of this auction in full before placing a bid.”
Sherwood said he launched xbay, Saskatchewan, Canada, as an alternative to eBay when he saw all the restrictions the popular auction site was putting on items such as “worn underwear.”
“I saw the opening,” he said, “and figured it would be a good way to take some of their customers that were annoyed with their restrictions.”
He said he makes no revenue from the site, which he said was running on a “cheap Linux box” at the time of the crash. But he now has to look into more expensive servers.
“I wanted to keep that free element, but in order for the site to stay alive I might not be able to,” Sherwood said. “Someone is currently running it for me free of charge on their server and told me not to worry about the charge for now.”