Australia

Struggling Victorian farmer chops up a rare Ooshie on live television after online backlash

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A struggling Victorian farmer has chopped up a prized Woolworths Ooshie after copping abuse for trying to sell it or swap it for irrigation water.

A struggling Victorian farmer has chopped up a rare collectable toy on live television to punish bullies who abused him for trying to trade it for irrigation water.

Stephen Black and his partner Melissa Portingale believed they'd hit the jackpot when they unwrapped a promotional toy being given away by Woolworths to customers who spend $30 or more.

Inside was a prized furry Simba Ooshie, a special version of the standard Simba that's part of the supermarket's series of Lion King-themed figurines.

Not only that, it was number one of just 100, making it extra valuable. Others are being offered for sale online for tens of thousands of dollars.

The rare collectible was posted on an Ooshies Buy/Swap/Sell group on Facebook.
The rare collectible was posted on an Ooshies Buy/Swap/Sell group on Facebook.
Facebook

The couple decided to offer their number 001 Simba for sale for about $5000, and use the money for water and other supplies for their drought-stricken farm.

But Ms Portingale says she copped a wave of online abuse despite explaining what she wanted the money for.

"We said we were asking about $5000 for it. People were just disgusted. The abuse started," she told the Nine Network on Friday.

"It was just hate, and suicidal threats, and yeah just some really awful things were said."

Victorian farmer Steven Black, and the Ooshie, on his Katandra West property.
Steven Black, and the Ooshie, on his Katandra West property.
Supplied

The couple then decided to offer a swap instead, saying they'd trade the toy for irrigation water. But the abuse didn't stop.

So on Friday, live on national television, Mr Black took a pair of scissors and chopped the collectable into pieces as a message to social media bullies.

"You can't buy it. I'm going to destroy it," he added, hacking away at the toy.

"If we were on the edge like some of the farmers are that have taken their lives because it got too much, this stuff may have pushed one of us over the edge.

Water prices in the southern Murray-Darling Basin have reached their highest levels since the worst of the Millennium drought more than a decade ago.
Water prices in the southern Murray-Darling Basin have reached their highest levels since the worst of the Millennium drought more than a decade ago.
AAP

"You ask yourself what is a life worth ... what money? Is it worth this? It's not."

Mr Black said his farm at Katandra West was struggling and he'd tried to educate people who had expressed interest in the Ooshie about water management problems in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Twitter users reacted to the story with humour, with one sarcastically decrying the Ooshie's demise as a terrible and soul-destroying act.

But it gave one user, dad Dave Earley, a great idea: "I'm going to lock the kids outside & make them watch as I cut the cursed things to pieces, one ooshie at a time, all the while shouting out the window at them, what is a life worth? Is it worth what, money? We don't know. Is it worth this? It's not."

Ben Mc said the brazen destruction of a beloved Ooshie upset his boy: "Oh great now my son is crying because farmer ... chopped off The Lion Kings head. Thanks a lot @TheTodayShow!!"

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