SPRING HILL — Arguably the world's most famous homemade balloon is up for sale. For $1 million.
With hopes of raising money for tsunami victims in Japan, Spring Hill residents Richard and Mayumi Heene — parents to Falcon Heene, better known as "Balloon Boy" — are auctioning off the infamous balloon, which Richard notes is technically a flying saucer.
The Heenes rushed into the public consciousness on Oct. 9, 2009, when Richard told authorities Falcon had climbed into the 20-foot in diameter contraption just before it took off. When it landed hours later, after a police chase carried live on national television, it was empty. Falcon later was discovered hiding in the family's garage.
Richard pleaded guilty to felony charges and served 28 days in jail, and his wife did community service for filing a false police report.
Now, Richard said, they hope the incident can bring about some good for people in Japan, where Mayumi still has family members. A California attorney will run the auction through balloonboyflyingsaucer.com until its end on June 7, Richard said. The site has a "purchase now" price of $1 million.
Already, he said, they've received six-figure offers.
"I am blown away," Richard said Wednesday. "It's far above anything I would have anticipated."
After the auction, Richard said, he and the attorney will determine to which charities the money will be disbursed. As a stipulation of his probation, Richard can't profit from the incident.
John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.