Jayne watched anxiously as her 17-year-old daughter Katie pulled her unruly lamb into the arena of the Madison County Junior Livestock sale. With luck, Katie wouldn’t collapse, as she had during a livestock show the day before.
Katie was battling cancer. This was her first chance in months to be outdoors having fun, away from hospitals and chemotherapy treatments, and she had come with high hopes for earning some sizable spending money. She had wavered a little on her decision to part with the lamb, but with lamb averaging two dollars a pound, Katie was looking forward to a bit more than pin money. So she centered the lamb for viewing, and the bidding began.
That’s when Roger Wilson, the auctioneer, had a sudden inspiration that brought some unexpected results. “We sort of let folks know that Katie had a situation that wasn’t too pleasant,” is how he tells it. He hoped that his introduction would push the bidding up, at least a little bit.
Well, the lamb sold for $11.50 a pound, but things didn’t stop there. The buyer paid up, then decided to give the lamb back so that it could be sold again.
That started a chain reaction, with families buying the animal and giving it back, over and over again. When local businesses started buying and returning, the earnings really began to pile up. The first sale is the only one Jayne remembers. After that, she was crying too hard as the crowd kept shouting, “Resell! Resell!”
Katie’s lamb was sold 36 times that day, and the last buyer gave it back for good. Katie ended up with more than $16,000 for a fund to pay her medical expenses – and she still got to keep her famous lamb.