Ripley's Believe It or Not! Sponsors Community Creation of a Gumball Portrait of Obama

Orlando, FL (PressExposure) January 13, 2009 -- It took two years of campaigning and nearly $750 million dollars for Barack Obama to win the presidency.

On Monday, January 19, it will take one hour and nearly 13,000 gumballs to create a one-of-a-kind portrait of the 44th president.

But this portrait won’t hang in the White House – it will be on display at one of the 32 Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums worldwide.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is sponsoring the creation of Obama in gumballs as part of the MLK day events at the King Kennedy Center in Ravenna, Ohio. Kids will assemble the 6’ x 6’ portrait that will contain 12,784 gumballs.

Renowned artist Franz Spohn designed the project so the community could create it together. Volunteers, from preschoolers to college students, will start work at noon and should be finished in about one hour.

“The mural process is a great metaphor for the community working together to realize a goal,” Spohn said. “The individual gumballs don't look like much by themselves, but they are transformed through community effort from being more or less items of little value or consequence to a beautiful and awe-inspiring image.”

Using computer technology, Spohn views the gumballs as pixels, or points of color. He creates the design for the image on a computer and then makes a map showing which color of gumballs are needed in specific places. Volunteers follow the color-coding map and place the appropriate gumballs in order into a clear plastic tube. The 90 tubes will then be mounted next to each other to form the unique portrait.

Because he can’t special-order gumballs by color, the artist had to purchase more than 70,000 gumballs to get the quantity and variety of colors needed. After that came the tedious task of sorting through thousands of gumballs to separate them into eight different colors. The most common color in the portrait? Dark purple – more than 7,000 of them will be used in the project.

The artist has worked with the King Kennedy Center before, donating his efforts to help them create earlier murals of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Corretta Scott King and Rosa Parks. Spohn’s gumball murals of Robert Ripley, Dean Cain, and Michael Jackson currently hang in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums worldwide.

Why gumballs? Spohn thinks they naturally pull people together.

“And it's quite convenient,” he adds, “especially in today's energy sensitive times, to buy my art supplies at the same time I buy groceries!”

The King Kennedy Center is located at 6660 Garfield Road in Ravenna, Ohio.

To set up an interview with artist Franz Spohn, contact Tim O’Brien at

For more information on Ripley’s, please visit


Tim O’Brien VP Communications Ripley Entertainment Inc. Office – 615-646-7465 Cell – 615-496-5949

About Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Ripley Entertainment Inc. (, keepers of the venerable Ripley’s Believe It or Not! brand, is a global leader in location-based entertainment, entertaining more than 13 million annually at its 74 attractions in 13 countries. In addition to its 32 Believe It or Not! museums, the Orlando, Florida-based company has publishing, licensing and broadcast divisions that oversee projects including the syndicated Believe It or Not! television show, best-selling books and the popular syndicated cartoon strip, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, that still runs daily in 42 countries. Ripley Entertainment is a Jim Pattison Company, the third-largest privately held company in Canada.

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Press Release Submitted On: January 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm
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