Last Friday I shared the ridiculous story of Chris Jericho and the “stolen” All Elite Wrestling World Championship belt. This week, the story’s gotten more ridiculous, and I would be remiss if I didn’t provide the SJ readership with the Paul Harvey* on the matter.
Turns out the Tallahassee Police Department doesn’t deserve credit for recovering the AEW World Title. A well-intentioned Florida Man celebrating his 41st birthday deserves Mr. Jericho’s gratitude.
Frank Price, listed as the assistant director for the Florida Natural Areas Inventory at Florida State University, spotted a scuffed up velvet bag in a turn lane while returning home from a scalloping** expedition with friends on his birthday.
Price and his wife Katie picked up the heavy velvet bag but allegedly didn’t take a peek at the contents until they’d returned home. When the couple saw their newfound prize, Mr. Price reacted as a typical person would.
I think I said something like, ‘Whoa, it’s a huge wrestling belt, check this thing out!’ ” Price said. “I never would have guessed that if I had a lifetime of guesses.
Here is where I question Mr. Price’s sincerity. He claims he never would’ve guessed it was a “huge wrestling belt” if he had a “lifetime of guesses,” yet his first excited utterance is “Whoa, it’s a huge wrestling belt?” My redneck side hollers bullshit at that one, but I digress.
Price apparently wasn’t a wrestling fan. Neither was his wife. The two have lives.*** So when they googled the belt and found numerous knockoffs, they assumed it was either a replica or something belonging to a kid. After a few candid snaps of the belt, Mr. Price placed the item on the Tallahassee Craigslist “Lost & Found” section.
“I found a pro wrestling championship belt on hwy 20 Sunday afternoon,” the ad said. “Contact me with details and you can come get it.”
He started getting replies Tuesday night. Some of them pointed to a Tallahassee Democrat article that detailed the belt that went missing after Jericho’s private jet landed at Million Air and the wrestling star took a limo ride to LongHorn Steakhouse on North Monroe Street for dinner. Jericho reported the $30,000 belt stolen that night.
But Price didn’t see any of the messages until Wednesday morning. When he realized what he’d found, he called the Tallahassee Police Department and was told to bring it in. He handed the belt over to an investigator in the lobby and answered questions about how he found it.
Mr. Price met another interested party at the Tallahassee Police Department: Mike Vaughn. Mr. Vaughn owned “Mike’s Limousine,” the limo service that provided Chris Jericho with the now infamous ride to the Longhorn Steakhouse, and was at the police station to file an insurance claim. In a moment of gratitude and relief that he’d be spared an extensive anal probing from insurance claim adjusters, Mr. Vaughn awarded Mr. Price $200.
For this act of kindness, Frank Price found himself the target of a Tallahassee PD investigation. Apparently Tallahassee law enforcement intelligence**** smelled foul play at a limo company owner and a natural resources director exchanging $200 for a $30,000 championship belt, so Mr. Price was asked to submit a sworn statement.
Unaware of his constitutional rights and relevant Supreme Court precedent, Price not only gave his statement to the Tallahassee cops, he handed them his cell phone for a nice, invasive search. Fortunately there was enough information to prove Price was nowhere near Longhorn Steakhouse the night of the alleged theft, he had no connection to “Mike’s Limousine,” and Mr. Vaughn didn’t conspire with Mr. Price to retain the belt for $200 compensation.
It’s hard to tell if this next quote is from Frank Price or Forrest Gump. You be the judge.
I was joking that there would be investigators following me around,…I figure the best approach is to just tell the truth and have fun with the whole thing.
The moral to this story is Florida Man’s always going to Florida Man, and sometimes it involves a Florida Man with good intentions rather than ill. As of the time of this post, Chris Jericho says he can’t “legally talk about”***** the AEW Title debacle.
Maybe he’s waiting for the right moment to share a thank you and a “little bit of the bubbly”****** with Frank Price?
*For SJ readers not of sufficient age to get this reference, Mr. Harvey used to host a radio program called “The Rest of the Story.” I’m sure there’s a “podcast” of it somewhere. Go educate yourselves.
**Since we “fish” in Tennessee and don’t “scallop,” I had to use the Google machine to figure out what this entails. Why the hell would anyone want to do this for a birthday outing? Where do you keep the beer?
***Apparently neither Mr. Price or his wife reads SJ, so that’s a strike against them.
****Sometimes the proprietor of this establishment sets up the jokes, and I can’t help but get my shot at the premise too.
*****See “Talk is Jericho,” ep. “A Little Bit of the Bubbly,” September 11, 2019, “I can’t legally talk about this situation…I think.” Sure, Chris. Sure.
******YouTube search “A Little Bit of the Bubbly” if you want to explore this rabbit hole further. For now, I’ll spare you the indignity.