Someone bid almost $100,000 for a Flamin' Hot Cheeto that looks like Harambe

It all started last month when Chris Astoyani grabbed a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos at work.

After shaking the cornmeal snacks onto a plate, he noticed that one of them looked nothing like a Cheeto.


"Doesn't that look like a gorilla?" Astoyani asked a co-worker.

"Yeah," his colleague replied without hesitation. "It looks like Harambe."

Harambe, a Western lowland silverback, made international headlines last May when Cincinnati Zoo officials shot and killed him to protect a child who fell into the primate's enclosure.

On a whim, Astoyani decided to sell the spicy find on EBay. His Jan. 28 post featured side-by-side photographs of Harambe scaling a tree and the sodium-packed snack.

In the item's description, Astoyani wrote, "Gorilla Hot Cheetos — RARE — One of a Kind Cheetos — Harambe Gorilla," and started the auction off at $15.

When no one seemed willing to bid, howeverAstoyani dropped the selling price to $11.99.

The next morning, the 33-year-old Burbank resident woke up to find a bevy of offers.

By Tuesday, the bidding had reached $99,900, and the auction had ended.

"This whole thing is crazy," Astoyani said. "It's really surreal."

But does this mean the independent filmmaker is now $99,900 richer?

Not really.

Astoyani said the buyer with the winning bid had second thoughts and backed out of the deal. Now EBay is going through a list of 132 bids to determine who will cough up cash for the Cheeto.

At this point, the final outcome is anybody's guess.

EBay did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.


Astoyani said he has had to defend himself against skeptics who think he carved the oddly-shaped specimen. Cheetos, he said, are too fragile to manipulate.

Astoyani said he is trying to stay realistic. He said the bids are likely the result of people getting excited and caught up in the moment.

"I wouldn't bid on anything like that," Astoyani said. "I wouldn't even bid a penny."

Regardless, Astoyani said, he's glad the auction generated interest in Harambe. He said he plans to donate a portion of the winning bid to an animal rights group.

For the time being, Astoyani said, he is keeping the item safe — in a plastic baggie.

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA