According to Guinness World Records, the world's most expensive ham costs $2,682 for 15 pounds. So what on earth would compel someone to pay $600,000 for ham at the Kentucky State Fair? When it's the fairground's Grand Champion Ham up for auction, of course. Every year for the last 53 years, the Kentucky Farm Bureau has been hosting a Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast and Auction at the state fair. It's a hot ticket, starting with the food. According to WDRB, the 1,500 guests were fed an extensive breakfast of "Kentucky Proud products including eggs, grits, sorghum, bacon, sausage, and country ham." At last year's breakfast, according to the hosts at the Kentucky Farm Bureau, there were, "More than 5,100 eggs, 1,500 half-pints of milk, 30 gallons of sorghum, 20 gallons of honey, 6,000 oranges, and 450 pounds of country ham [served] during the meal."
If the food wasn't enough to get you into the door, there's also the state's political elite who are present. Both U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Governor Matt Bevin featured as speakers at this year's breakfast. But the highlight is almost certainly the auction, when attendees bid on the fairground's Grand Champion Ham for charity. This year's winner was Central Bank, who was willing to dole out $600,000 on a hunk of award-winning ham. The charity that will receive the money is picked by the winner, but no word yet on where Central Bank will be sending their donation.
Perhaps most shocking about all of this is the simple fact that this isn't the first time someone has paid $600,000 for a ham at the Kentucky State Fair. Back in 2011, Steve Trager, the CEO of Republic Bank & Trust Company, paid $600,000 for the award-winning, 16.95-pound ham. But that's far from the most ridiculous bid. In 2011, the ham went for $2 million, split between two bidders including Trager.
Though this tradition is definitely expensive and ridiculous, it's not all fun and games at the ham auction. U.S. Representative John Yarmuth decided to protest this year's breakfast because, according to a report from the local Courier-Journal, "he is concerned by political stands the bureau has taken on a range of issues—including the rights of gays and lesbians to marry—that he doesn’t believe have anything to do with the agricultural focus of the organization." So maybe it is best to just stick to the ham.