NEW YORK (Reuters) – The killing of Osama bin Laden quickly spawned a mini-industry of memorabilia, with street vendors and online stores busily peddling trinkets to celebrate and commemorate the moment.
Hastily designed mugs and T-shirts appeared for sale online, many with bin Laden’s face, sometimes crassly doctored, with the word ‘DEAD’ scrawled in large letters.
“Sorry it took so long to get you a copy of my birth certificate. I was too busy killing Osama bin Laden,” said one T-shirt for sale for $22 on the CafePress website that sells customized T-shirts, posters, mugs and gifts.
Another shirt depicted bin Laden with a bloody gunshot wound in his forehead, another showed a soldier carrying an American flag and the words “We Got Him,” while another said, “Hey Osama, Tell Hitler We Said Hello.”
On the more patriotic side, some designs featured an American flag and Sunday’s date.
At Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center towers once stood, vendors rushed within hours of the news to sell small American flags, at $3 a piece, to members of the euphoric crowd cheering bin Laden’s demise.
“As of this morning, the No. 1 search topic on our website is Osama bin Laden,” said Joe Schmidt, head of consumer markets at San Francisco-based CafePress, which allows users to upload designs for shirts and bumper stickers.
More than a thousand bin Laden designs had been uploaded by users since midnight, he said.
Schmidt said he and his colleagues discussed late on Sunday night how to handle the “unusual and exceptional” event, given that the company’s guidelines would usually rule out designs that celebrate someone’s death.
More typical recent items on the site included those celebrating the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton or printed with outrageous statements by actor Charlie Sheen.
They decided that bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, was an exception to the rule, he said.
“We’re seeing patriotism as being very much in the center of this, celebrating the fact that the U.S. has stuck to this mission, and in support of President Obama and in support of our military,” he said.”
On the online auction site eBay, users were selling copies of the morning’s New York newspapers at a hefty mark-up.
A packet of three New York Posts with the headline “GOT HIM!” was listed at $18.99, while a packet of six papers — including New York’s Daily News with the headline “ROT IN HELL” was listed at $39.99.
And Old Grouch’s Military Surplus store in Clyde, North Carolina was celebrating bin Laden’s death by offering a 15 percent discount to customers who entered the passcode “infidel” at its online store.