About 400 people filled the Hippodrome Friday night to bid on their favorite scantily clad GW athletes.
The only spaces free from throngs of excited students were roped-off areas patrolled by about six University Police officers. Many attendees stood on leather couches, shouting and cheering for the athletes. Several students toted cameras and camcorders to capture the liveliness of the crowd.
Bidders watched as 40 athletes from 19 men’s and women’s teams auctioned themselves for dates with the highest bidders. Competitors vied for the audience’s money, with some male athletes stripping down to Speedos and several women grinding in bikinis.
“(I came) for the boys,” said freshman Amanda Ritvo, although she did not purchase any of the men’s sports team members. “It was a very good show.”
Men’s basketball players J.R. Pinnock, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Carl Elliott stripped off their shirts while dancing around the stage, yielding $400, the highest amount this year.
Jamie Olson, president of the Student Athletic Advisory Council, which organized the event, said the basketball players did not plan to participate but requested to join the program early in the evening.
Olson said that while her group hoped to raise $2,600, the event was “very successful,” raising at least $2,500.
“We earned $1,300 last year and hoped to double that amount this year,” Olson said.
She said half of the money from the bids will go to the advisory council and half will go to Miriam’s Kitchen, a soup kitchen located in the Western Presbyterian Church at 2401 Virginia Ave.
Players from other teams, including water polo and baseball, also participated in the evening’s festivities.
Baseball players Dan Sullivan and Josh Wilkie entertained the crowd with music as an alternative act to the numerous quasi-nude performances.
“(I volunteered) because it’s fun, and I love playing in front of people,” Sullivan said. “I also wanted to support GW and raise money for charity.”
Many of the athletes said they had little apprehension about the prospect of going on a date with a complete stranger. But some students had close friends bidding on them to boost the final bid prices.
“I had lots of safety bets, and it was nice to have my friends there for me,” said Elizabeth Davis, of the women’s water polo team.
The student-run program saw the highest turn-out of an event in the Hippodrome, second to “Late Night with the President” this fall, said Patrick Ledesma, coordinator of Hippodrome programming.
Hippodrome staff showed the same level of enthusiasm as the audience, although they remained busy with crowd control. Ledesma said there were about five employees rotating in and out of the event.
Patrick Phillips, a freshman employee of the Hippodrome, said the date auction is “something kids look forward to.”