Energy, Live and Learn

$1,000 Mint Juleps at the Kentucky Derby

I feel exclusive already

The allure of the Derby julep

It seems the key to driving up the value of any commodity is scarcity (real or perceived) and exclusivity. Recently, President Barack Obama’s 2005 Chrysler 300C was auctioned off on eBay. Auctions are great for sellers because they can coax buyers into revealing their maximum willingness to pay. President Obama wasn’t selling the car, but rather an Illinois resident who came into possesion of the car in 2004, after Obama turned it in for a 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid. The Blue Book value of an ’05 Chrysler 300C, with 20,000 miles like Obama’s, comes in at about $17,000. The burning question is: what would someone be willing to shell out for the right to say, “Guess who owned this car before me?! The president! Just check out the title.”? Answer: US $271,300.00. Wow, that’s a steep price to pay for exclusivity.

And that brings us to the Kentucky Derby. Any community of people that will spend millions of dollars on young horses (Prince of Dubai being one of them), to train them into super racers by the age of 3, probably doesn’t bat an eye over a $1,000 mint julep. OK, but for us regular people, it’s still worth marveling at and drawing some economic wisdom out of.

These guys will be choking off my clean air supply soon

These guys will be choking off my clean air supply soon

First things first: choke off supply; take a page out of the OPEC member country’s playbook. The $1,000 Derby juleps will be served in a collection of 99 sterling silver cups this weekend plated in 24-karat gold. A select few of that bunch, known as Legends Cups, will feature a diamond-encrusted design and signatures by Triple Crown-winning jockeys Ron Turcotte, Jean Cruguet and Steve Cauthen. This is a premium pricing model wrapped into a scarcity model. With only 99 commemorative cups, and a special few with diamonds, emotions are sure to be running high in the mad dash to the bar. Time is running out. Actually, the mad dash was all online leading up to the Derby where buyers reserved their cocktail ahead of time. All of this minty madness is for a good, altruistic cause. Proceeds from the cups go to benefit The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and The Robby Albarado Foundation.

It isn’t all just about the cups, though. The $1,000 mint julep is indubitably exotic. Buyers of the drink will enjoy a mint julep featuring a unique set of ingredients from around the globe: sugar cane cut and crushed by hand from Sainte Marie in the Reunion Island of France; Turkish mint grown near the Euphrates River; ice made of water from an aquifer in the wilderness of Central Norway; and a small batch of the Master Distiller’s personal selection of Woodford Reserve super-premium bourbon.

With most asset prices down and the global community scrambling around to preserve their wealth, how many of the 99 gold cups will be unleashed on the eBay marketplace next week? Like Obama’s old Chrysler, julep cups may turn out to be a shrewd investment. What a bonus! In addition to the classy bourbon buzz, 99 people could literally drink their sorrows away! Somebody missed out on a golden slogan opportunity.

Even in this economic climate, some people still have some cash. There’s nothing like scarcity and exclusivity to draw it out of them.

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