$10,000 at auction
Mosaic Pays Big for Young Putnam’s Cake
By Jeremy Maready
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.
LAKELAND | The 9-year-old daughter of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam bakes one delicious chocolate hazelnut cake.
The Mosaic Co., a fertilizer company and one of the county’s largest employers, paid a record $10,000 for Abigail Putnam’s cake at the Polk County Youth Fair Auction on Tuesday.
It was the most ever paid for a cake at the annual fair, said Youth Fair Coordinator Janice Jackson. The second-highest bid was $600. She said a cake sold for $1,000 at a past auction, although $200 to $500 is typical.
Mosaic officials said Tuesday they are examining the decision to pay such a high price, and Adam Putnam described the situation as “awkward,” particularly for his daughter.
Mosaic, a large contributor to the annual agriculture fair, typically buys many things from the students who sell livestock and baked goods at the fair.
“They are a huge supporter of the kids and the fair,” said Nicole Walker, Polk County Extension director and 4-H agent.
But Tuesday’s purchase was unprecedented.
“Ten thousand dollars is way out of the normal ballpark,” Walker said.
Shortly after the auction, Abigail Putnam went to Jackson’s office and donated $9,000 of her winnings to the Youth Fair.
“Even my 9-year-old knows a cake isn’t worth $10,000,” Adam Putnam said Tuesday. “I am proud of my daughter and proud of her cake. She feels good about her decision and is excited about it. It’s going to help a lot of kids.”
A Mosaic spokesman, Russell Schweiss, said, “The $10,000 is definitely outside of the normal range.”
“We are investigating the issue and considering what actions are appropriate,” Schweiss said.
Schweiss said an employee whom he didn’t name was given a lump sum to bid on items at the auction. On Tuesday, the company spent $17,000 on pigs. The meat from the pigs, and other livestock the company purchases, will be given to charity.
Putnam said he tasted one of his daughter’s practice cakes and “it was good.”
She is active in 4-H, “just like I was,” Putnam said. “It teaches (the students) a lot of lessons.”
And for this instance, it taught his daughter a lesson in giving back.
But it was an awkward situation to be put in, Adam Putnam said. “The one that it’s most awkward for is Abbie.”
[ Jeremy Maready can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7592.