Sold! Ripped flag torn apart by Hurricane Florence auctioned for ‘staggering’ amount

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An auction of the battered U.S. flag that famously refused to surrender to Hurricane Florence’s 100-mph wind gusts has topped out at $10,900.

The flag, known as the Hurricane Florence flag, became a viral sensation when viewers watched it get ripped to shreds on a live cam put atop Frying Pan Tower, 34 miles off the North Carolina coast. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 14.

News outlets such as the Wilmington Star News referred to the bidding as “staggering” when it topped $10,000.

Twenty-five people bid 96 times for the flag, according to Ebay. All the money raised by the sale is going to the American Red Cross and its relief efforts.

Images of the ripped flag continuing to fly during the storm came to represent “who we are as America,” owner Richard Neal told McClatchy reporter Matt Martinez as Hurricane Florence approached the coast.

“Thanks to everyone who helped and supported the needy and spread the word about our desire to do our part to help,” said a Facebook post by Richard Neal, who owns the flag and Frying Pan Tower.

The flag earned several nicknames during its live cam appearance, including “the Hurricane Florence flag” and “Kevin,” Neal said on Facebook.

Bidding started Thursday at $10, according to eBay. The name of the winning bidder was not immediately released.

Neal bought Frying Pan Tower in 2010, after the former Coast Guard lighthouse was deemed obsolete due to GPS navigation, according to a May 2018 Charlotte Observer story.

He put the tower up for sale in May, but retained majority control of the site. It is now a bed and breakfast inn, operated by Neal and his partners.

The Coast Guard operated the tower starting in 1964, to warn passing ships of the shallow Frying Pan Shoals, the Observer reported.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs