The 2014 Kentucky State Fair Grand Champion Ham pictured above sold for a record-breaking $2 million at auction. Two winning bidders will split the bill, and WDRB reports that auction proceeds go to the winners’ charity of choice. Now that’s a fine way to spend your bacon.
The auction winners of this year’s ham were Hermitage Farm, LLC and Republic Bank—the latter of which has been a winning bidder for seven out of the last 11 years. Not fair.
It’s important to know that this isn’t the same kind of ham you see gracing most holiday tables. This baby is an example of a dry-cured American country ham—think of it like American prosciutto. Just like your favorite cheese or booze, this kind of ham needs to age six months to a year before it’s ready to eat, according to the American Museum of Food.
According to the USDA’s definition, dry-curing country hams—and prosciutto—draws out so much moisture that the ham loses at least 18% of its original weight. The more typical reduction is 20 to 25%. The Courier-Journal reports that the $2 million ham weighed 15.98 pounds at auction.
Kentucky’s Grand Champion Ham auction has been setting records for several years. Just over the past 10 years, WDRB reports that the average price of hams sold at the KY auction is nearly $545,000.
Photo: Sedalia Weekly Observer
Other neighboring states also raise money at their State Fairs with Grand Champion Ham auctions. The 2014 Missouri State Fair Grand Champion ham pictured above sold for $7,200, which set a new state record.
Heading up past the Cheddar Curtain, the 2014 Wisconsin State Fair Grand Champion Bone-In Ham went for $4,250. Wisconsin also awards a Grand Champion Flavored Bacon, which in 2014 was initially auctioned for $6,250, but was then donated back to the auction and resold twice. First it re-auctioned for $3,500, and then again for $2,000. Total money raised by that bacon: $11,750.
So what makes the Kentucky State Fair the standard-bearer for record-setting ham auctioneering? One answer might be the presentation: WDRB reports that since 1999, each year’s Miss Kentucky winner parades the ham around the room for bidders to admire. Pictured with the 2014 $2 Million ham is Miss Kentucky 2014, Ramsey Carpenter.
Miss Kentucky 1999, Heather French Henry, told WDRB how the tradition began:
And that, friends, is how you sell porcine products.