Triathlete Auctions Herself Off , Gets Few Takers

The eBay bidding war for a dinner date with U.S. triathlete Jenna Shoemaker sadly turned out to be just a minor skirmish. Not a popular item. With only five bids — the highest at $250 — her quest to earn extra money for training has to be labeled as a fail. Damn economy.

Jenna Shoemaker

But larger, more troubling issues linger. Shoemaker is being slammed on her Facebook page for selling herself so wantonly, and also for a joke she made there about stripping to earn money to support herself while training. She has fired back on both counts.

First, on her Facebook comments about stripping for a living:

Shoemaker wasn’t really considering stripping — it was apparently a joking reference on her Facebook page — but she was “advised to get a job this fall so that come January I will be able to train full time without worrying about money.”

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with [stripping],” Shoemaker said, “but it’s not my style. Some things need to be left to the imagination.”

But there was also a huge amount of negative feedback about the eBay auction itself. Sample comment :

“You did this primarily for personal gain — be it publicity or money. Shameful.”

Shoemaker responded, via her blog:

“It’s a shame that everyone is raking me over hot coals… perhaps everyone should stop assuming things until they know the facts. “a portion of the proceeds” are going to breast cancer. yes. this statement is vague but true.

EVERYTHING is going to breast cancer EXCEPT the costs associated with listing in through Ebay. Both people are responsible for paying for their own dinners, so that cost is not calculated into the equation. … The actual point of the auction was not to raise money for myself off of THIS auction but rather to make a point and to create a media buzz. We need to shake things up once in a while and stray from the norm. There are so many amazing and talented athletes who are so gifted but so broke and it’s just such a shame that there isn’t more money to support all of us.

“press behind all of this has been amazing… and who knows, maybe someone or some company will be inspired to support a lesser known sport or athlete in a lesser known sport that they otherwise may have ignored.”

OK, so stripping is out, and is apparently modeling for PLAYBOY, or SWANK. It is a shame that athletes of the fringe sports — and you don’t get more fringe than triathlon — have to struggle waiting tables while sports like basketball get the big sponsors.

Oh, and the auction itself … only five bidders for the “dinner ‘date’ at a restaurant ‘mutually agreed upon’ lasting 2.5 hours, and an autographed race kit worn during her 2009 season.” And yes, it counts as dinner if you only have soup.