What started out as a press release that raised eyebrows in the KARK newsroom has turned into a national news story and likely material for late night talk show hosts.
On Wednesday, Arkansas' senior U.S. senator Mark Pryor said a news release reporting that the winner of a "Girls Gone Wild" contest will win a summer internship with his office is a hoax.
Senator Pryor issued the following statement after receiving word of the news release:
"This release is a hoax. This office does not sell, auction or donate internships. Internship positions are determined through an extensive application process. Unfortunately, as Mark Pryor moves into the 2014 election cycle this is the kind of stupid, out-of-left field attacks you will see."
As of Thursday at noon, more than 200 articles had been published about the alleged internship with Senator Mark Pryor purchased by Girls Gone Wild founder and producer Joe Francis. Pryor's office says the internship was a hoax.
The story has made The Washington Post, CBS, Politico, and TMZ among other news outlets.
But the founder of controversial brand "Girls Gone Wild" says he thought and still believes a congressional internship he purchased from a charity website was legitimate.
Joe Francis told TMZ.com he bought an internship in Senator Mark Pryor's office from the website BiddingForGood.com. The site currently has a listing for a 4-week internship with Pryor valued at $15,000.
After Francis announced he'd be giving the internship to the winner of a reality television show, Pryor's office sent out a statement calling the internship a hoax and saying they'd be asking the FBI to investigate.
"My only intention in purchasing this auction item was to support a local non-profit charity," Francis told TMZ. "At all times I believed in the legitimacy of this internship."
The Arkansas Times posted a link to a 2006 auction item listed on the same website as a lunch with Pryor for two. The item reportedly sold for $2,550.
In an interview with the Times, Francis says he thinks the internship from Pryor's office was legitimate and the senator backed out when he learned how the internship would be used.
On Thursday, Pryor released another statement, an update on the FBI investigation that is looking into the hoax:
"As previously stated, I have never sold, auctioned or donated internships. I am glad the responsible party has come forward to clear up the matter. I had already referred the case to the FBI, and it is now up to them to determine whether a crime has been committed."