By snapping up everything from a toothbrush taken from Paris Hilton’s trash to an O.J. Simpson rubber Halloween mask, Americans turned pop culture obsessions into commerce this year on eBay.
By examining the volume of items sold relating to pop culture phenomena in categories ranging from celebrity scandals to blockbuster films to tech gadgets, eBay has identified exactly what Americans were most fascinated by in 2007.
“What Americans buy and sell every day is one of the best indications of what they’re obsessed with,” says Karen Bard, eBay’s pop culture expert. “When someone or something is being written about in tabloids or reported about on CNN, if it revs up the American public, you’re bound to discover a bidding frenzy for related listings on eBay.”
Here are the findings:
* Spotlight Starlets: 34,345 Britney Spears-related items sold this year, making her the most sought-after tabloid queen on eBay. She beat out both Paris Hilton, who had 27,377 items sold, and Lindsay Lohan, who had 8,099 items sold. Fragrances were the most popular items sold for both Spears and Hilton.
* Infamous Athletes: 145,497 Barry Bonds-related items sold-five times more items than those of fellow disgraced athlete Michael Vick. There were 28,732 Vick-related items sold. Interest in O.J. Simpson-related items paled in comparison to those of Bonds and Vick, with just 5,196 O.J. items sold. The most popular O.J.-related items: nonfiction books (20 percent of items sold).
* Hot, Hard-to-Get Tech: Despite the iPhone frenzy that swept the nation this year, Apple’s iPod remained the number-one gadget on eBay, with 2,781,243 iPod-related items sold. There were 532,390 Nintendo Wii-related items sold, followed by 272,852 Sony PlayStation 3-related items and 158,132 Apple iPhone-related items. Additionally, 96,508 Guitar Hero-related items were sold, 63,851 Microsoft Xbox 360-related items were sold and 50,182 Halo 3-related items were sold.
* Cinematic Sensations: “Transformers” bested the Harry Potter franchise, with 442,342 items sold to Harry Potter’s 344,825. Action figures comprised 71 percent of “Transformers”-related sales.
* Breakout TV Series: In the battle of the TV breakout series, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” beat out NBC’s “Heroes” with 5,107 items sold to “Heroes’” 4,411. “Ugly Betty” (ABC) trailed behind with 2,697 items sold. The most popular “Grey’s Anatomy” items sold were related to the character of Dr. Derek Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey.
* Fall-Debut TV Series: 4,249 “Bionic Woman”-related items (NBC) were sold, trumping sales of fellow fall-debut series “Pushing Daises” (ABC), which had 337 items sold. The most popular “Bionic Woman”-related items were action figures, which comprised 28 percent of all items sold.
* Presidential Candidates: Americans had grown weary of the old presidential-candidate archetype, as evidenced by their fascination with candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton this year. The two led sales of all items relating to front-running presidential candidates with 40 percent (10,207 items) and 35 percent (8,949) respectively of the 25,597 total items sold.
* Best-selling Books: Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” bested J .K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” There were 18,420 “The Secret”-related items sold compared to 14,481 “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”-related items. Additionally, 7,912 items related to Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and 3,631 items related to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” were sold.