Ham fetches $400K at State Fair breakfast
For the bargain-basement price of about $28,000 a pound, Republic Bank president Steve Trager took home the grand champion country ham Thursday at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Country Ham Breakfast & Charity Auction at the state fair.
It’s hard to imagine that a $400,000 ham could be considered cheap, and there probably aren’t too many people other than Trager, who was part of a group that bid $2 million for the top ham last year, who can claim that, but it really was quite the deal.
Trager said the proceeds from the ham will go to charitable organizations that deal with health care, well being and education. Trager said he plans to finalize where that money will go within the next month.
This isn’t the first ham for Trager and his family. Republic Bank has bought the ham outright or been part of a syndicate that bought the ham in eight of the past 12 auctions. The bank has paid as little as $60,000 in 2004 and it helped set the record last year as part of a group that included Hermitage Farm Charities and Bridgeman Foods Inc.
This year, the ham was produced by Charles Gatton of Father’s Country Ham’s Inc., of Bremen, Ky. It’s the fourth time the Gatton family has produced the grand champion.
Trager said the ham auction is fun but that charities don’t benefit just because Republic makes the winning bid.
“We have a philanthropy budget,” he said. “We’re going to do things whether we get the ham or not.”
Trager said he hasn’t decided what to do with the ham, noting that once a winner was served up for people who work at the bank and once a winner was carved up and sold at Proof restaurant.
“I’ve had like five minutes to think about it, I’ll have to figure something out,” he said.
Asked if he likes country ham, Trager said he has snuck a little from time to time.
“You know, I’m Jewish,” he said. “I’m not even supposed to be eating country ham.”
By Joseph Gerth