The Riddle of the 50-foot-long Sphinx for sale in Morganton
Somebody noticed a large replica of an Egyptian landmark on Facebook Marketplace. Here's the backstory.
Well, here’s something:
This tweet was sent to me by Rabbit Hole supporter Jenn Moxley, who declared that “literally only one person can answer all the questions.” Look Jenn, I’m just a man. I don’t wear a cape. I don’t have super powers. But when a 50-foot-long Sphinx showed up in my mentions, I instinctively sprung into action. I am, after all, the Sam Spade of generally useless information.
First up, a 50-foot-long Sphinx isn’t something you can just up and buy on Amazon. A quick internet search for “Sphinx for sale” turned up smaller pieces of Egypt-themed art and any number of hairless, Mr. Bigglesworth-resembling cats.
This particular Sphinx was 50 feet long, 16 feet wide, and made from wood, PVC, foam, and stucco. It does not, the listing says, include the trailer that it’s sitting on in the picture.
To get to the bottom of this, I dug deep into my investigative journalism toolbox and used every available skill to get to the bottom of this mys— ha, just kidding, I sent the seller a message on Facebook Marketplace.
Turns out, this Sphinx is a very large stage prop made by a man from Marion named Ken Young. In my message, I declared up front that I did not have $3,000 to buy a 50-foot-long Sphinx, and he replied by telling me to come to the Hickory Convention Center last Friday night. The Sphinx, he explained, was for the New Manna Baptist Church Youth Rally. “We’re expecting people from 15 different states, 60 churches and 1500-2000 in attendance,” he said in a message before the rally. “Every year the whole weekend has a theme. This year it is Egypt. We have a comedic character that every year gets into some crazy adventure. Come and see what it’s [all] about. God Bless.”
Here is that comedic character, Cousin Shiney:
It’s clear that not only is this thing very, very large, but it’s also solid enough for people to stand on. It also took a long time to build—two or three evenings a week for five weeks, according to Ken. Then, a few days before the gathering, he and others had to haul the thing to the convention center while dodging low-hanging traffic lights, somehing that would have been a real treat to see on your morning commute.
I was not able to make it to Hickory for the rally, so I followed up and asked Ken how it went. “The services were great, The skit was funny and thought provoking!” he wrote back. “Ten asked Jesus to forgive them from their sins. It was a blessed of the Lord weekend.”
I also noticed that the Sphinx was now marked as sold. Well, not really, said Ken. “I didn’t have any reasonable offers on the Sphinx, so I decided to repurpose it. Have you ever heard of obstacle course racing, like Spartans? We put on our own local nonprofit obstacle course race called the bear crawl. I moved it out there for a race in a couple weeks and plan on letting the kids race, climb over its back.”
The race is set for April 30. If you want to run a Spartan-style race with a large facsimile of an Egyptian landmark sitting nearby, you pretty much only have one option. Ken doesn’t have any pictures of the Sphinx in its new home, but he did send me a video of what it looks like to rip the thing’s head off with a forklift.
I made the video into a GIF and I can’t stop staring at it, so I think this is a pretty good place to end.
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