The Last Days of 'Ellen': Ellen Tricks Audience Members Out of $2,500

Did Ellen just commit fraud?

The Ellen Degeneres Show/YouTube
Financial Crimes
The Last Days of 'Ellen'

In honor of Ellen Degeneres’s show, The Ellen Degeneres Show, coming to an end after 19 years on May 26, we are chronicling its farewell season each week. These are the Last Days of Ellen.

This column is mostly devoted to talking about the various A-list celebrities who are bidding their best friend Ellen adieu during her show’s final season. That is well and good, but it does completely ignore a huge aspect of the Ellen Experience: fan interaction. How silly I have been to ignore the true lifeblood of this entire franchise.

If our girl loves one thing, it’s pretending to like her fans. After assuring the audience that she will “have another chapter” and “see [them] in another chapter” (sounds like a threat to me), Ellen explained that she was inspired by an auction of Tiger Woods’s golf clubs to have an auction of her own. Specifically, she would be auctioning off a giant purse that she used as a prop in an episode from the second season of Ellen, “I’ll even sign it,” she promised.

To sweeten the pot, Ellen threw a couple of tie-dye shirts, a onesie, and a wine tumbler into the purse. So all in all, this is an auction lot worth, in Ellen’s words, “somewhere between $32 and four million.” That is funny when you hear it the first time, and becomes a dark bit of foreshadowing when you know what’s going to happen next.

A real-life auction ensued, with all proceeds going to the Ellen Fund, which helps “save the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.” The bidding started at $50 and a good amount of hands went up, but by the time the bidding got to $2,000, there were only four women left vying for the big purse. One woman smartly bowed out at this point, a memory that I’m sure she will look fondly on for the rest of her life. Here she is:

The Ellen Degeneres Show/YouTube

Another woman, who had not bid the entire time, actually stood up to bid $2,000. Rookie mistake. Ellen is nothing if not a trickster, and the four women who were willing to bet the price of two MacBook Airs for a TV prop that would probably end up just sitting in the garage were about to find that out first hand.

Ellen upped the price to $2,500, and the woman who had stood up to bid $2,000 started to sit down. Not so fast, little lady. No, instead of letting her bow out gracefully, Ellen ensnared her and her fellow bidders in her trap.

None of them would be getting the purse they thought they were bidding for, but all of them would get the honor of donating $2,500 to Ellen’s charity and all of the non-historic deadstock merch she mentioned earlier. She did say she was going to sign all of it though, and that will probably nab them all at least $50 on the secondary market.

This has to be illegal. You can’t trick people into saving the mountain gorillas of Rwanda by promising them a comically oversized purse and then not giving them the purse once you’ve gotten $10,000. I think this is the legal definition of fraud, and Ellen broke the number one rule of financial crimes: Do not commit fraud on your own nationally syndicated television show. That’s how they got Al Capone.

Previously on The Last Days of Ellen: Jessica Biel Fills Her Underpants