WUKY spoke with Toni Cannon, Kentucky Operations Manager for Kentucky Fun Mall on Bryan Avenue here in Lexington, a space she shares with Cocaine Bear, also known as Pablo Eskobear, who has been here for about 7 year.
According to legend, the bear actually ingested about 40 pounds of cocaine in 1985 but was found dead in the woods in Georgia about three months later. The drugs had been dropped from a plane by former Lexington narcotics officer turned drug trafficker Andrew Thornton, returning from Colombia. He jumped after being transported but was found dead in an alley in Knoxville after his parachute failed to open. Naturally, because after all, this is a store that was founded trying to change the state’s slogan to Kentucky Kicks Ass and sells preserved Kentucky Derby winner jars of poop and Kentucky Fried scented candles. Chicken, naturally they knew they had to have the bear.
Melinda Spaulding has worked at the store since August 2021 but has a much longer history with Pablo Eskobear.
She isn’t at all surprised by all the hype and says people love coming to take selfies with the bear, buy merchandise and learn more about its history.
It was Melindas’ idea to invite cocaine-using visitors to pin where they came from on a large map hanging on the wall of the store.
Kentucky for Kentucky had to jump through myriad hoops before they found Pablo Eskobear, but they’re sure this is the real deal.
Country music outlaw Waylon Jennings bought it at a pawnshop before giving it to a friend and the folks from Kentucky for Kentucky eventually found it in Vegas.
The store plans to collaborate with the movie producers on merchandising, but if you need a hit before next February, they have plenty of options, including a Cocaine Bear snow globe:
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