Forrest Gump taught Elvis Presley his signature dance moves. He jogged back and forth across America. And he was invited to the White House on multiple occasions. All huge achievements for the fictional figure portrayed by Tom Hanks in the 1995 classic film “Forrest Gump.” But they pale in comparison to the time Forrest helped to repair relations between the U.S. and China.
Remember when he became a ping pong phenom after completing his tour in Vietnam? Well, the very same paddle he used as one of “the first Americans to visit the land of China in like, a million years, or something like that,” just sold for $25,600 at auction.
“Somebody said world peace was in our hands. But all I did was play ping pong,” Gump said in the movie. Now, the famous paddle is in someone’s hands. And it’s not Tom Hanks.
The Auction House Hugely Underestimated the Value of Tom Hanks’ Ping Pong Paddle
It remains a mystery as to whether or not the paddle is truly one of a kind. It’s possible that there are multiple replicas out there that were used as props in the film. The craziest part of the whole thing is that the Julien Auction’s website has the value of the paddle estimated at $1,000-$2,000. Apparently, there are some extremely dedicated Forrest Gump fans with money to burn out there. And as much as we’d like to know who the lucky winner was, the buyer remains anonymous.
“A wooden ping pong paddle prop used with scenes featuring Tom Hanks as the titular character in Forest Gump (Paramount Pictures, 1994),” the website description reads.
Notice that the auction house specifies “A” and not “The” wooden ping pong paddle. Perhaps the low estimate is a result of there being multiple paddle props out there. Maybe not. Either way, the $25,600 for which the paddle sold is way out of their original ballpark.
“During his goodwill ping pong trip to Communist China in the middle of the film, Tom Hanks’ Gump uses a wooden paddle with black grip tape and a red textured striking surface. This piece features a red pebbled striking surface over a wood paddle, with a smooth black backing, and black grip tape on the handle, topped by red and gold GAMMA GRIP anti-slip tape.”
A ping pong sponsor even payed Forrest to use their paddles in the movie. But he preferred his own.
“Mama, I only like using my own paddle,” Tom Hanks’ character said in the movie.
Now, someone else gets to use the iconic prop. Or, more likely, put it in a display case and show it off to all their friends.