TIME Business

This Is the First Item Ever Sold on eBay

As the online marketplace celebrates its 20th anniversary, a look back at the unlikely item that helped launch the brand

In honor of eBay’s 20th anniversary Thursday, note that one of the most valuable brands on the Internet started with the sale of one of the least valuable items imaginable: a broken laser pointer.

Over Labor Day weekend in 1995, the site’s founder Pierre Omidyar wrote code for “AuctionWeb” and launched it as a personal project out of a spare bedroom in his Silicon Valley town house. He had bought a $30 laser pointer with the intention of using it to make flashy presentations, but ended up using it to make his cat chase the red dot, according to The Perfect Store: Inside eBay, a book written by former TIME senior writer Adam Cohen. Omidyar decided to list the $30 laser pointer, which broke two weeks after it was purchased, because “it would be a good way to test out AuctionWeb, he figured, and it would cost him nothing,” Cohen wrote. In the listing, he admitted the item didn’t work, even with new batteries. While no one bid on it for a week, a bidding war started the next week, and the product first listed for $1 ended up selling for $14.83.

Four years later, Cohen wrote, AuctionWeb — known as eBay — had grown to be an “online retailer valued at more than Sears, or Kmart and JCPenny.” Today, Forbes reports Omidyar’s personal net worth is $8.4 billion and lists the site as one of the “50 most valuable brands in the world. It boasts 157 million buyers, about 25 million sellers, and 800 million listings.”

Read Next: The 20 Weirdest Things Ever Sold on eBay

TIME animals

Look How Hard This Beagle Puppy Works to Keep the Car Window Open

Inspiring us all to work hard to keep our dreams alive

If you’re a dog, one of the greatest pleasures you’ll ever know is riding in a car with the window down. You get to smell so many smelly smells!

This beagle puppy — who, by the way, has huge ears and is really adorable — really wants to experience that joy, and when someone tries to roll up the car window, he fights. He fights hard. Watch as he hangs on the window with both paws, staying strong no matter how high the window goes.

Let’s just hope this pup’s owners eventually let him win and go for a ride with his entire head stuck out the window. He deserves it.

TIME Food & Drink

Here’s What a Watermelon Looks Like Without Its Rind

Skinning one feels so wrong but will make your party just right

A former NASA engineer has a party trick that is out of this world.

In this clip, Mark Rober, who used to work at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, demonstrates how to skin a watermelon and put the fruit back in its rind. Two watermelons are needed. He scraps the rind off of the first watermelon with a knife and skins it with a Scotch-Brite pad. Then he cuts the second watermelon in half and guts it so he can fit the skinned watermelon inside the two green halves. If all of that seems like too much work, then maybe his tutorial on how to make a watermelon smoothie by just carving a hole in the watermelon will be easier for you to pull off.


TIME Internet

Obama and Bear Grylls Pose for a Selfie During Alaska Hike

"Glad this was the only Bear I met in the park. -bo"

President Obama posted a tongue-in-cheek photo on Instagram while hiking the great outdoors with Bear Grylls, host of NBC’s Running Wild with Bear Grylls.

“Glad this was the only Bear I met in the park. -bo,” he captioned the picture Wednesday morning on the White House Instagram account, grinning ear-to-ear in a zip up jacket.

Obama is on a three-day trip to Alaska to test his wilderness skills and to survey the impact of climate change on the state.

The special edition of Grylls’ Running Wild will air later this year, according to NBC.

Glad this was the only Bear I met in the park. -bo

A photo posted by The White House (@whitehouse) on

Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! was quick to crack wise about Obama’s outdoor adventure.

“This is a show on which celebrities eat mice and squirrel and drink bodily fluids. In this one, the President teaches us how to survive alone in the wilderness, surrounded by 14 Secret Service agents disguised as trees. Bear Grylls and President Obama will trek through the forest together. Eating roots and berries – which is basically what his wife already makes him eat.”

Kimmel goes on to say: “A lot of people are upset that our President is appearing on a reality show. To which I say – big deal! A little over a year from now, we might have a President who hosted a reality show.”

Others have jumped in with suggestions for what Obama should do on the show. Someone put up a petition on the White House’s petition site, demanding the President drink his own urine “for science.”

Despite the petition, Grylls Tweets that he doesn’t foresee that happening.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Television

Gary Busey Just Proved He Really Knows How to Make an Entrance

Watch him ride a horse into the Jimmy Kimmel Live! studio

On Jimmy Kimmel Live Tuesday night, actor Gary Busey made a dramatic entrance on horseback to announce that he would appear on the next season of Dancing With the Stars.

When the comedian asked Busey what made him agree to be a part of the show, he simply replied, “I didn’t have anything else to do.”

The next season of the ABC show premieres Sept. 14 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The other stars on the show will include Paula Deen, Chaka Khan and Nick Carter.

TIME viral

Hurricane Katrina Rescuer to Reunite With Girl from Iconic Photograph

mike maroney katrina rescue
Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce—Air Force Then Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney hugging three-year-old Lashay Brown after rescuing her in 2005.

The #FindKatrinaGirl search has a happy ending

A man who worked as a pararescue jumper in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will reunite with the little girl he hugged in a now-iconic photograph.

Mike Maroney, now an Air Force Reservist, received a smiling hug from then-three-year-old Lashay Brown after picking up her and her mother in a helicopter in 2005, People reports. A military photographer took the widely disseminated photo, but Maroney never got Brown’s name. Over the years, he’s tried to find her through social media, but he had no luck—until now.

A 16-year-old named Andrew Goard, who runs an Instagram page honoring pararescue jumpers, became aware of Maroney’s search and launched the #FindKatrinaGirl hashtag earlier this year. When a local news outlet near where Brown now lives in Mississippi picked up the story, neighbors alerted her mother, who finally contacted Maroney. He and Brown plan to meet up later this month.

“I was excited that he was looking for me for such a long time,” Brown, now 13, tells People. After all, she exclaims, “I’ve barely seen any of the pictures!”


TIME celebrity

Watch Kanye West’s VMAs Speech Recut as a Stand-Up Comedy Act

Kanye West MTV VMA 2015
Jeff Kravitz—FilmMagic/Getty Images Kanye West at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles on Aug. 30, 2015.

All it needed was a laugh track

Still haven’t seen Kanye West’s speech from this past weekend’s MTV Video Music Awards, where he announced he was running for president in 2020? Then we recommend watching the below clip, which reimagines the speech as a stand-up comedy act.

All it took was a laugh track and some clever cuts to audience members — including Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift — laughing and clapping. “Pryor, Carlin, Seinfeld, C.K…Yeezy?” writes creator David Elmaleh in the video description. We can totally see it.

This video has inspired others to create their own Kanye speech mashups, including this one, which incorporates the Seinfeld intro music.

TIME celebrities

A Bride Ran Into Robert Pattinson at Her Wedding and Posed for This Epic Photo

She's clearly 'Team Edward'

A celebrity sighting made a wedding in Northern Ireland even more special.

Wedding videographer Reuben Skinner uploaded a photo to Facebook on August 30 that showed a bearded Robert Pattinson, the star from the Twilight movies, posing with the bride and her friends the night before at the Culloden Hotel in Belfast.

Here is another shot from Instagram:

#robertpattinson #northernireland #cullodenhotel #tomandsarahswedding #celebrities

A photo posted by rachelreid76 (@rachelreid76) on

Skinner told Mashable that the other wedding guests had spotted him at the hotel bar, so the women rushed over to try to catch a glimpse and take some shots with the actor.

TIME Business

Watch a Young Serena Williams Predict a Lifetime of Excellence

"If you were a tennis player, who would you want to be like?"

Gatorade’s latest “Win From Within” ad features an ever inspiring Serena Williams in a series of flashbacks from her career. The tennis champ, who is currently competing in the U.S. Open, has been put on a pedestal of being perhaps the best in the sport — and this ad completely backs that up.

If Williams wins the U.S. Open, she will be the first woman to win a calendar year Grand Slam — which includes a sweep of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open — since 1988.

Watch as the young athlete is interviewed about who she wants to be like when she grows up. Her answer? She wants people to be like her.

TIME celebrity

Watch This 7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Sing ‘Fight Song’ With Rachel Platten

Rachel Platten performs during the 'Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too Tour' in Rohnert Park, Calif. on Aug. 23, 2015.
C Flanigan—Getty Images Rachel Platten performs during the 'Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too Tour' in Rohnert Park, Calif. on Aug. 23, 2015.

Inspring and challenging

Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” has become an anthem this summer. It soundtracked a Girl Scouts PSA, appeared on The Biggest Loser and the trailer for Supergirl, and was used in one of Good Morning America’s inspirational campaigns. Now, the track has taken on a new and even more personal meaning.

Platten sang the hit with a cancer patient, 7-year-old Jeremiah Succar, at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after finding out through social media that Succar was a huge fan of the song since he was diagnosed with stage-four atypical rhabdoid teratoid in May. “He used to sing it when he got a lot of headaches, but now he sings it in the morning, before bed and during shots he has to get,” Succar’s father Jerry Succar told CHLA.org.

The Succars started a campaign on Instagram and used#RachelMeetJeremiah to catch Platten’s attention. It worked, and Platten visited Succar in his hospital room to play the song, which you can hear below.

After meeting him, she wrote on Instagram, “The Greek was cool….but THIS was amazing. I love you Jeremiah, thanks for inspiring me and rocking out with me!!!”

Earlier this summer, Platten spoke to EW about realizing the song’s impact after hearing it used by cheerleaders, other cancer patients, and campaigns. “The first time it happened, a woman who had cancer sent an email to her family [saying], ‘I have three months to live, but I don’t want you to be sad. I want you to know this is how I feel, and this song is my anthem,’” she said. “I knew the song was helping me, but seeing what a difference it had had on this woman’s life made me realize there was something to this song. People need to hear this, it’s connecting to people’s lives. This is going to help.”

This article originally appeared on EW.com


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