"The Curse of Colonel S." – in 1985, The Hanshin Tigers had won the Japan Championship Baseball Series: Fan's celebrated by diving off & into the Dōtonbori river... That is: until they threw a statue of a certain colonel into the lake...
...on October 16th 1985, The Hanshin Tigers had finally won the Japan Championship Baseball Series in Osaka: it had been about 20 years since their last major victory, Long time fans where ecstatic, Charged and happily crying they took to celebrating the streets in drunken jubilation!
Fans in Kansai cheered, sang & celebrated by diving off Ebisubashi Bridge & into the Dōtonbori river: taking turns they decided that whoever resembled the player was to jump off in batting order – however, because nobody looked enough like Randy Bass (The star hitter: an american with a beard.) lacking a look alike, the fans decided to instead head over to a nearby KFC and 'borrow' the Colonel Sanders statue to throw off the bridge instead...
The statue sunk to the bottom... a watery grave for an otherwise innocent uncanny effigy of a fried chicken tycoon... [Incidentally: the colonel himself had died only 5 years prior to this on Dec 16th 1980.] The years immediately following the incident, nothing big happened...
But Tigers fans soon began to notice a string of consecutive losses, which quickly elevated into a losing streak, try as they might they just couldn't qualify for the championships... Soon rumour spread that the colonel held a grudge for being tossed.
Eventually in March of 1988 the story was popularized by a late night talk show: Detective! Knight Scoop! Viewers could send in questions and requests and the team would try to solve the mystery sent in by the viewers. – The team dove down to find the statue, but they where unsuccessful in their search. One of the hosts ended the segment saying something like "Until the statue is found, the curse of the colonel will remain." ...and after that the 'Curse of the Colonel' was born. The team never qualified for the championships until 18 years later in 2003, Once again, 5,300+ fans dove into the river in celebration – [unfortunately resulting in one death in the river. (The custom stopped shortly after this and a "do not dive" sign was put up.)] – Despite qualifying, the team still lost the championships, and the curse obviously persisted.
...Then: Almost 25 years after the incident in 2009: during a river cleaning effort: the statue was found!! – The workers retrieving it at the time said that "it felt it was more like they where rescuing a person..." – the retreval & urban legend was televised: and the majority of the statue was recovered. – First his torso was pulled up, then his legs! His right hand was also found the following day. – However the statue was still missing his left hand as well as, the fronts of his shoes, its cane and his iconic glasses - [which KFC later replaced!] – The statue was drained of all of its colors and had begun to calcify from being water logged for so long. – After it was recovered: the statue was then purified at a Jinja shrine in Kansai – [it was given a blue Onamori & other Religious charms as well.] – after that, The statue was put on display for about 3 years near the river: But seeing as the KFC restaurant which the statue originally belonged to no longer existed – The statue was instead moved to the branch near Koshien Stadium... In 2017, the statue was returned to KFCs HQ Office in Osaka where it remains to this day, It was put on display and decided to be worth keeping and around as an emblem of luck. – [An equally odd fact about that, the president of KFC japan owns the colonels white outfit as well as his drivers licence which he bought at auction for $21k!! [x] a rather affordable price for a piece of your companies history i suppose...]
...It seems that finding the statue hasn't helped the teams luck very much. (as To this day the tigers still haven't won the title and sadly they still havent been able to play because of the ongoing pandemic...)
It's no wonder that the statue is considered lucky by HQ: over the years the legend of the statue's sinking & Urban legend resulted in a ton of free television space and advertisement for them. (including this very post.) The legend and the statue has even been referenced in popular anime, manga, games, and much more!! – To name a few, more recent appearances: the statue was mentioned in the Horror VN: Higurashi (when they cry.) (in the 2020 anime, this route is even animated!) the statue even appeared for a split second in kill la kill.
– The End..?
[i'll be sure to update this post if i ever hear more about it!]
[Quick disclaimer: just to be safe/for the record: No, i am NOT affiliated or sponsored by KFC in anyway, I'm just an artist/folklore enthusiast! - As well Any sort of infringement was entirely unintended! this is all in good fun. – The face was not traced from any existing image or KFC branding. I started from a rough sketch and painted it from there. [see 2nd last slide for my sketch -> final progress]