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Town distances itself from million-dollar Bigfoot hunt

7:22 AM, May 21, 2010   |    comments
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The hunt, advertised through the website www.hunt4bigfoot.com, is the brainchild of Silverton-businessman Rick Lewis. He owns Bigfoot Central, a gift shop and "museum."

Lewis is also the recent target of several cease-and-desist letters from companies and government organizations that he implied were sponsors of his event.

The $1,000,000 Hunt For Bigfoot offered a chance for 400 participants, for $250 apiece, to win the bounty for catching Bigfoot in a photograph during a July 10-14 event at Kendall Mountain Resort in Silverton.

However, the event appears to be about as real as the mythical hairy forest-dweller itself.

Silverton town administrator Jason Wells says the Kendall Mountain Resort, which is owned by the town, has never been scheduled to host the $1,000,000 Hunt For Bigfoot. Wells says the resort is booked with a different event that weekend.

"I just want to make sure that we're not somehow tied into this whole affair," Wells said. "I don't want a bunch of people showing up here who have paid $250 for there to be a lack of an event that's got the town's name in any way attached to it."

Wells says Silverton is known for colorful characters, but he said this "dubious" hunt was "bizarre even for here."

After being confronted by town officials over the false booking claim, Lewis says he was moving the contest to a town in Northern California but refused to say where, according to Wells.

A string of official-looking logos on Lewis' website implied a number of companies and government organizations were behind the event: the US Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Nikon, Kodak, the City of Durango, Rocky Top RV Park and the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum.

All told 9Wants to Know investigator Kyle Clark they had never heard of the event. Several immediately contacted Lewis demanding he remove their logos from his website.

It is unclear how much money, if any, Lewis had collected.

Responding to several requests for comment, Lewis left a late-night voicemail claiming he had only gotten about half the interest in the event he expected and he was canceling the contest with plans to hold it next year.

It was unclear from the voicemail if he was canceling the Silverton event and moving it to California, or just canceling it all together.

Lewis had written online that he expected up to 400 participants who, if each paid the entry fee of $250, would have generated $100,000.

Additional requests for comment placed by phone and e-mail were not returned.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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