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‘Curse of the Colonel’ KFC statue disposed of in Japan

TOKYO (AFP)A plastic statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s founder Colonel Sanders that was a lucky charm for superstitious Japanese baseball fans has been “disposed of” 15 years after being dredged out of an Osaka river, the firm said.

Jubilant supporters of Osaka’s Hanshin Tigers, known for being Japan’s most passionate baseball fans, flung the effigy — and themselves — into the dirty Dotonbori river in 1985 after winning Japan’s version of the World Series.

But as the years went by and the Tigers’ fortunes faltered, a belief took hold among fans dubbed the “Curse of the Colonel” that success would only return if the life-sized doll was recovered.

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 11, 2009 shows a statue of Colonel Sanders, the founder of US fastfood chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, being displayed by Osaka city officers after it was recovered from a river nearly a quarter century after it went missing when fans of the popular local professional baseball team Hanshin Tigers threw the statue into the river after winning the championship in 1985. PHOTO: AFP

The bearded statue was finally found during construction work in 2009 and salvaged, covered in sludge and missing his glasses and left hand. It was cleaned up, blessed by a priest, and put on display.

The alleged jinx took some time to be exorcised, but finally last year the Tigers won the Japan Series again after a 38-year wait, prompting wild celebrations and more jumping into the river.

KFC said on Tuesday that the statue was now “too dilapidated to maintain” and would be disposed of.

But first, a ritual “showing our gratitude” was held at a temple and attended by KFC’s Japan president Takayuki Hanji, who offered Japanese sake along with the chain’s signature fried chicken.