"The football is not there, which means one of several things," Bacon said. "Someone may have seen it, picked it up and thrown it in the river or thrown it away. Or, someone may have taken it home and given it to their kids to play with and don't know what it is. It's also conceivable that some kind of animal toted it off ... but not likely."
Bacon hid the ball in the woods at the boat landing on the Pee Dee River near Lilesville, a spot that the ninth and 10th clues led directly to. And a spot numerous football seekers have scoured over the past week.
Bacon said that when he hid the ball, he drove up to an area by the boat landing and saw signs that said "No Parking Between These Signs." He saw a nearby large, Y-shaped tree, and planned to stick the football there but one of the branches had been cut, leaving a hole that the football could conceivably fall into. So, instead, he saw a smaller, forked tree next to it and set the ball there, in the fork of the tree.
"I put it in plain sight," Bacon said. "It's clear that someone or something has found the Golden Football but they just may not know what they have. We were confident that someone would find it in the woods by the boat ramp."
The Golden Football is a Nerf-style football, slightly smaller than a regulation football, spray-painted gold. Bacon also cut a slit into the ball, and placed the certificate of authenticity inside, entitling the person who found the ball to $500.
"We hid one in Richmond County and it's been found," Bacon said. "We hid one in Chesterfield County and it's been found. We hid one in Anson County and it's not been found. Or, more accurately, somebody or something found it. We just don't know who."
Bacon added that this is the first time something like this has happened, in several years of Golden Football contests.
If the ball isn't turned in to the Anson Record office, located at 123 E. Martin St., Suite 400, in Wadesboro by Friday, Oct. 2, an entry ballot will run in the following Wednesday's paper for a drawing to give away the $500. A drawing will be held on Oct. 16 to declare a winner.
The certificate of authenticity inside the Golden Football will become null and void on Oct. 2 at 5 p.m.
Those disappointed at coming up empty-handed in the Golden Football search should stay tuned for the Anson Record Golden Christmas Tree search, coming up later this year.
This time, Bacon says he will clearly label the tree from the outside, indicating it's worth $500.