PITTSBURGH (AP) — A dented chocolate football created by a Pennsylvania candy maker to poke fun at the New England Patriots' "Deflategate" scandal has ended up raising $20,000 for charity.
The ball created by Sarris Candies of Canonsburg was auctioned off Friday on KDKA radio to benefit the Dollar Energy Fund, which provides utility assistance for poor residents.
A local car dealer bid $5,000 for the chocolate ball, and that price was matched by candy maker Bill Sarris, whose business is about 15 miles south of Pittsburgh. The utilities that help support the Dollar Energy Fund then matched that $10,000.
"What started out as an internal little joke ended up picking up momentum and excitement," Sarris said Friday. "It's going to a good cause, so that's the best thing."
The chocolate football was molded with a dent to make it appear deflated. Sarris posted it on Facebook as a joke and initially didn't intend to sell it.
Instead, Sarris named the ball the Bradie ball — a reference to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady but with a different spelling to avoid legal issues. A caption on the Facebook photo was a tongue-in-cheek reference to allegations that New England cheated by using underinflated footballs in winning the AFC Championship game, which put the team in Sunday's Super Bowl.
The picture's caption read, "Net weight 13 lbs ... Oops! We meant 11.2 lbs."
Actually, the chocolate ball weighed about 2.5 pounds, and Sarris sweetened the deal by including two more regular shaped chocolate footballs and two chocolate helmets to make the Deflategate auction package worth about $500.
Richard Bazzy, who owns Shults Ford, spent 10 times that much to win the package — and was more than happy to call more attention to a scandal involving one of the Pittsburgh Steelers' rivals.
"It doesn't get any better when you can poke fun at an AFC rival while knowing that you are also helping families in need," Bazzy said. "We expect to display the football in one of our dealerships with pride."