‘Curse of Colonel Sanders’ statue returns minus hand, feet, glasses

by Reiji Yoshida

After recovering its legs and right hand Wednesday, construction workers reassembled the long-lost statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder and mascot Colonel Sanders, which was tossed into the Dotonbori River in central Osaka 24 years ago, city officials said.

The plastic statue was thrown into the river in 1985 by excited Hanshin Tiger fans following the baseball team’s first Central League championship victory in 21 years.

The upper part of the statue was found Tuesday, about 300 meters from where it was thrown into the water in the Dotonbori district. The legs and right hand were found nearby, city officials said.

After the team returned to its losing ways, their misfortune in subsequent years became jokingly attributed to the missing statue, which was responsible for “the curse of Colonel Sanders.”

Local TV program “Tantei Knight Scoop” once sent a diver into the murky waters to locate the statue, but in vain, which only increased the statue’s fame.

“(The statue) has generated so much interest that it should be brought to Koshien Stadium,” Hanshin Tigers Manager Akinobu Mayumi was quoted as saying by Kyodo News Wednesday, referring to the team’s home stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

The statue parts were found during a cleanup of the river bottom carried out by the city in preparation to pave its banks.

The two feet and left hand as well as the Colonel’s trademark glasses were still missing Wednesday.

But a city official in charge told The Japan Times that Osaka “will not look for them further because we are just laying pavement.”