Today in “Awesome Happenings,” I present the case of Belly Ballot’s National Belly Branding Contest, in which a woman was supposed to have won $5,000 in exchange for allowing the internet to name her unborn child. The woman was a 26-year-old art teacher living in Los Angeles, who wanted to use the money to pay off credit card debit and start a college fund for her future baby. This story drew such outrage and astonishment that media outlets such as TODAY, The Huffington Post, Gawker, NPR, local news affiliates, Slate.com and Saturday Night Live all ran the story, complete with lots of pearl-clutching and passerby interviews, all aimed at answering this age-old question: who in their right mind would allow the internet, with all its terrible trolls and drunk lazy bored people, name their first child?
The answer, as it turned out, was no one, as the entire thing was a hoax, set up by the fledging Belly Ballot to drum up publicity. (Obviously. There are a lot of stupid people in the world, but anyone living in LA cares too much about their reputation to legitimately participate in contest like this.) As an actual 26-year-old teacher living in Los Angeles, I could have told you it wasn’t real from the get-go, for two reasons: 1) $5,000 would go approximately nowhere in terms of paying off debts and having cash left over for college accounts. I’m currently selling the rights to my first child’s name for no less than $20,000. Leave your suggestions in the comments; 2) I went to high school with the actress claiming to have won the contest and she is way too intelligent to let the 14-year-old Catfish of the world name any of her offspring. Especially for just five grand. (Incidentally, she is also super close to Fertile Myrtle and in love with the Fiece. The world is very, very small.)
Morals: don’t believe everything you find on the internet or see on your television or read in your newspapers (except for everything on this blog. It’s all brutally, painfully honest). Trust no one (except me). And, most importantly, thank your lucky stars you’re not a third-tier local news anchor and that you were not required to spend several weeknight hours on Hollywood Boulevard after dark, asking strangers how they felt about a human interest story that ended up not being super interesting, or even about a real human.