Ari Mandel isn’t too surprised.
“It was nice to fantasize,” Mandel told The Jewish Forward. “But I didn’t think it was going to happen.”
The enterprising 31-year-old posted the prime spot on the auction website Tuesday morning. The winner would have received two signed contracts — one guaranteeing Mandel’s “timeshare” in the skies and another promising that Mandel would keep the spot open by staying free from sin.
He assured bidders that he had lived a life full of mitzvos (good deeds), never worshipped false gods and is still 98% vegan.
Bidding started at a humble 99 cents and reached six figures within a few hours.
That’s when the wrath of eBay moved in. The internet giant struck down the post after receiving numerous complaints from people who thought Mandel’s flippant theology was deeply offensive.
An eBay representative called Mandel and reminded him that users aren’t allowed to sell intangible items.
Mandel insists that the auction was a harmless prank.
“To those of you who took this seriously, chill out. It was just a joke,” he said. “Whether or not you’re a believer in this sort of thing, chill out.”
Mandel was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish community in upstate New York, Opposing Views reports. He left the community at the age of 23, then joined the U.S. Army. He is now an NYU student and a divorced dad who considers himself culturally Jewish and theologically atheist.
He had no idea that the hoax would attract so much attention.
“I’m not a master prankster,” he said. “This idea just popped in my head and I jumped on it.”