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Election Fever, Teen Sensations and High-Profile Scandals: eBay Reports America’s Pop Culture Obsessions in 2008


SAN JOSE, Calif. - Over the past year1 , Americans have Ba-rocked the vote, shopped for their favorite Jonas brothers memorabilia and showed their support for Britney’s comeback, turning pop culture obsessions into possessions on eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), the world’s largest online marketplace.

By examining the volume of items sold relating to pop culture phenomena in categories ranging from political scandals to blockbuster movie hits to tech gadgets, eBay has identified exactly what Americans were most fascinated by in 2008.

“If it was a hot topic this year, then it was also hot on eBay,” said Karen Bard, eBay’s pop culture expert. “When someone or something excites the American public, you immediately see a surge of related listings pop up on eBay.”

Bard’s picks for America’s top 10 pop culture obsessions of 20082 include:

1. Nintendo Wii - 2,056,866 related items sold
2. Xbox 360 - 1,297,903 related items sold
3. Apple’s iPod Touch - 281,361 related items sold
4. Hannah Montana - 223,139 related items sold
5. Apple’s iPhone 3G - 212,837 related items sold
6. Brett Favre - 199,832 related items sold
7. Barack Obama - 111,546 related items sold
8. High School Musical Cast - 109,813 related items sold
9. Guitar Hero III - 98,159 related items sold
10. Madonna - 96,511 related items sold

America’s 2008 Obsessions:


Presidential Pride: As Americans stood behind their Presidential candidate of choice throughout the campaigning this year, evidence of their fascination with candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden was obvious on eBay. Obama was the clear front-running presidential candidate among eBay users with 111,546 related items sold. McCain was the runner-up both in the polls and on eBay with 33,377 related items sold, followed by Palin (20,712 related items sold) and Biden (5,017 related items sold).

Miley Cyrus, “Hannah Montana”**


Tween Talent: In the battle of the breakout tween stars, Hannah Montana out-sang and out-acted her fellow cohort of young sensations, with 223,139 Hannah Montana related items sold. She trumped the competition which included the High School Musical Cast (109,813 related items sold) as well as singing heartthrobs the Jonas Brothers (75,710 related items sold). With Cyrus’ hit TV show, CDs, and a clothing line, this diva-in-training seems to be unstoppable.

Rehab Rejuvenation: Hollywood’s starlets made “getting healthy” trendy this year with trips to exclusive facilities. Comeback queen and pop princess Britney Spears led the charge on eBay with 32,966 related items sold, followed by Brit chanteuse Amy Winehouse (6,665 related items sold) and Sophia Coppola muse Kirsten Dunst (4,156 related items sold). Former bad girls Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie rounded out the reformed gang with 7,899 and 842 related items sold, respectively.

Olympic Glory: The 2008 Summer Olympics were a time of broken records, patriotism and the start of a new era of Olympic stars. After breaking records in the pool, Michael Phelps swam his way to the top of the proverbial medal stand on eBay with 13,350 related items sold.

Michael Phelps


Simply Scandalous: Between athletes, celebs, and politicians, there was no shortage of scandalous behavior and feuds this year. Rumored Madonna love interest, Alex Rodriguez, led the charge with 95,925 related items sold, followed by ex-“Newlywed” Jessica Simpson who had 59,037 related items sold. Jessica’s rumored rival, Romo-ex, and fellow Southern belle Carrie Underwood stole third place with 15,395 related items sold, beating out scandalous politicians John Edwards (1,595 related items sold) and Eliot Spitzer (232 related items sold).

Blockbuster Blowouts: Fans went bat-ty for “The Dark Knight” with 60,484 related items sold - 18 times more items than those of classic adventurer Harrison Ford’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (just 3,235 related items sold). Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man” fared better with 38,760 related-items sold.

New Kids on the Block


Comeback Kids: Their comeback was “nothin but a heartache”, as a measly 8,724 Backstreet Boys related items were sold this year. Trumping the “Boys” were the early ’90s sensation, New Kids on the Block, whose comeback landed them on the TODAY Show and resulted in 30,075 related items sold on the site. Reunited supergroups like The Police and Phish also left the Backstreet Boys in the dust with 15,891 and 10,202 related items sold, respectively.

The Hills: In the epic battle between LC and the villainous reality couple, “Speidi”, the cast came out looking low-grade with the eBay public. Just 1,082 Lauren Conrad related items were sold on the site this year, while 323 Heidi Montag related items sold. As for publicity mastermind Spencer Pratt, only a paltry 10 related items were sold the entire year; looks like the staged photo ops backfired.

Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, “The Hills”


Pop Diva Showdown: The long-standing battle between the two top pop divas continued on eBay. The Material Girl, Madonna, outshone Mariah Carey five to one with 96,511 related items sold to Mariah’s 20,358 related items.



What’s in the Water?: This year, celeb moms-to-be were spotted everywhere, including on eBay. Buyers went bananas for rocker mom Gwen Stefani who had 27,626 related items sold. In addition, eBay buyers were star-struck by Angelina Jolie (14,373 related items sold), felt fantastic about Jessica Alba (13,273 related items sold), and sang praises for Christina Aguilera (7,995 related items sold).


Tech Toys: Despite the Apple iPhone frenzy that swept the nation again this year, both Apple’s iPod Touch (281,361 related items sold) and the iPhone 3G (212,837 related items sold) were no match for the Microsoft Xbox 360, which ranked high with 1,297,903 related items sold. However, the Xbox 360 didn’t come close to the whopping 2,056,866 Nintendo Wii related items sold on eBay.

Encore!: Guitar Hero III reigned as gamers’ music video game of choice with 98,159 related items sold compared to Rock Band 2’s 1,650 related items sold. Talk about a curtain call!

Brett Favre


Brotherly Rivalry Trampled by QB Veteran: 58,486 Peyton Manning related items sold this year, making him the reigning Manning brother on eBay. He beat out younger brother Eli Manning, who came in with 51,796 items sold. However, senior statesman QB Brett Favre “jetted” past the brothers on eBay with 199,832 items sold.

** Images courtesy of Photorazzi.

About eBay
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1The data is based on listings that included the key terms in the listing title across all categories from Jan. 1, 2008, to Oct. 15, 2008.
2Bard’s picks were culled from items sold pertaining to pop culture phenomena in categories ranging from political scandals to blockbuster blowouts to tech toys.


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