It pays to have a hometown superhero. In 2018, that’s $2,099,787.
By the end of the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend auction on a star-studded Saturday night — the finale of two jam-packed days of events to benefit Children's Mercy hospital — the total broke $2 million for the first time since the annual fundraiser launched in 2010.
"Every dollar we raise is a blow against cancer," said actor Rob Riggle, who co-hosts Big Slick with fellow local celebrities Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner. "That's why we're here. That's why we all flew in."
They were joined Saturday by about three dozen celebrity guests on the stage at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland.
The biggest money makers of the evening were items provided by Rudd, aka Hollywood's Ant-Man.
"I spent a lot of time this past summer hanging out with a bunch of superheroes," Rudd said, referring to the back-to-back filming of this spring's "Avengers: Infinity War" and next month's "Ant-Man and the Wasp." That meant he could get autographs from about 30 big-name cast mates, he said, including Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and the casts of "Black Panther" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."
And those signatures weren't on just any piece of paper. They were on a Captain America shield provided by Marvel Entertainment.
"This is real vibranium," Rudd claimed. "I'm pretty sure it's the only vibranium item we're offering tonight. ... It feels cool just to be holding it, I gotta be honest with you." It sold for $53,000.
Later, Rudd offered two tickets to the June 25 premiere of "Ant-Man and the Wasp" in Los Angeles. During the fierce bidding war, Rudd's co-star David Dastmalchian, also of Overland Park, spoke up in the thick Russian accent of his character, Kurt, and offered two more tickets. One pair went for $60,000, the other for $45,000.
Stonestreet, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., offered a set visit to ABC's "Modern Family," which he said is entering its 10th and final season. Then he turned the offer into two packages, and each sold for $26,000.
NBC’s "Today" show weatherman wonder Al Roker made it rain money at the Midland, selling two trips, each for $22,000, to visit him on set. "You can hang out in the green room and get stale doughnuts," he said. Oh, and also stand with him as he delivers the weather report live.
"Saturday Night Live" alum Taran Killam auctioned off a trip to the September premiere of the comedy "Night School," which also features Riggle. He upped the ante by promising to get star Tiffany Haddish to slap him on the face at the after-party. "You can get video of it and show it to your friends," he said. Within seconds, the package was auctioned off for $29,000.
Other big-ticket items:
▪ Riggle sold a KU Basketball Experience for $21,000, with seats right behind the Jayhawks' bench. "You can actually hear Bill Self cussing out the team," Riggle said. "It's pure joy."
▪ Sudeikis sold a trip to the "SNL" set for $30,000.
▪ Kevin Pollak sold a set visit to his Golden Globe-winning Amazon series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." The price: $17,000.
▪ "American Idol" star Chris Daughtry got a winning bid of $16,000 to join him on his upcoming tour of Asia.
▪ Dastmalchian sold a visit to CBS' "MacGyver" — on which he plays the villain Murdoc — for $12,000.
▪ Magician Blake Vogt had the audience create an auction item, choosing a city (Miami) and an activity (a brewery or winery). The winner, who paid $12,000, got to choose the celebrity to join him and his wife. He picked Chiefs great Tony Gonzalez.
▪ Martin Starr sold a visit to the set of HBO's "Silicon Valley" for $22,000. But the deal was sweetened when several other Big Slick guests offered to join in as well, including Angela Kinsey of "The Office," Charlie Day of "Horrible Bosses" and Adam Devine of the "Pitch Perfect" movies. Not sure whether this helped or hurt the bidding, but comedian Will Forte offered to throw in the underwear he was wearing that evening.
Watching them work the crowd is almost as funny as an episode of "SNL." Seth Herzog, who appeared with Rudd in "Role Models," opened the show by taking shots at former TV star Roseanne, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and even Big Slick itself.
The boys of Big Slick take heat for a lack of diversity, he said. "But they are diverse. They have every kind of white guy: short, tall, fat, Jewish, TV ugly. The full range."
It wasn't just fun and games as they worked purse strings. Heartstrings were up for grabs, too. When David Cook of Blue Springs joined his fellow “American Idol” alum, Daughtry, for a stirring cover of Tom Petty’s "I Won’t Back Down," it was clear Big Slick is here to stay in the fight against child cancer.
The Big Slick hosts kicked off the weekend Friday with a press conference at Children's Mercy, followed by a meet-and-greet-and-play with some of the young patients there.
That afternoon, they and their celebrity guests braved the heat and the silliness in a softball game at Kauffman Stadium before the Royals played the A's that night.
And on Saturday morning, they strutted down the red carpet before their charity bowling tournament at Pinstripes in Overland Park. In one of the several shout-outs to Kansas City, CNN journalist Jake Tapper said he got married here, tweeting later that the wedding was at the old Clubhouse on Baltimore, and that his wife (Jennifer Marie Brown) is from St. Joseph.
In 2010, Big Slick raised just over $120,000. The total since then now tops $8 million.