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SURFER Approved: Mick Fanning’s Boozy Generosity

Taylor Knox' fundraising premiere takes an awesome turn when White Lightning strikes

Last night's premiere of Taylor Knox' Bonzer-lionizing film "WI-5" showcased pretty much all the better parts of our eclectic global surfing community. Roughly 300 people came together in a cozy Carlsbad theater to watch their hometown hero, the carving-est Californian of all time, T-Knox, ripping the bag out of waves around the world on the resurging five-finned Bonzer design. But more importantly, those 300 people came together to help a member of the community need, with all of the proceeds of the $20-per-head ticket sales going to help shark-attack victim Leanne Ericson cover her medical expenses.

The film was excellent, chock-full of the kind of back-footed, bucket-throwing surfing we love to see from Knox, but the real highlight came unexpectedly during a raffle at the end of the night. After Knox tossed out all kinds of free schwag, Bonzer originator Malcolm Campbell brought one of the boards from the film—a beautifully-sprayed, five-finned masterpiece of a surfcraft—for Knox to raffle off. The crowd went understandably nuts.

Numbers were called, a guy named Jack Seymour made his way up to the stage to claim the board…but then, he didn't. Instead, he borrowed the microphone from Knox, said he would instead auction the board on the spot to raise more money for Ericson, and opened the bidding at a rather steep $1,000. The crowd fell silent, everyone awkwardly looking around, thinking, Geez, guy. This ain't exactly the MET Gala.

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"I've got $1,000 going once…going twice…" said Knox. "Wait a second, we've got $1,100 in the back!" Three-hundred heads swiveled toward the back corner of the room where a certain Australian three-time World Champion stood, a little wobbly, with one hand raised, and the other holding a cold one—not his first of the night, by all accounts.

Once the gates were open, Hurley Marketing head Evan Slater started throwing his hand up, along with Salina Cruz surf camp proprietor Mark "Bugs" Arico, and suddenly the bid was up to $1,500. Fanning jumped back in the action with $1,600. Before Knox could close the bidding, Fanning bid against himself with $2,000.

By the time the dust settled, Mick's wallet was $2,200 lighter, and he had a new Bonzer in his quiver. But more importantly, Leanne Ericson had just over $6,000 toward her medical bills thanks to the generosity of a lot of people, including the three-time World Champ. And if that wasn't selfless and heartwarming enough already, Ericson told Knox this morning that she decided fellow shark attack survivor Kawika Matsu needed it more than her, so all proceeds would go to him instead.

Perhaps Fanning was thinking about his own close encounter with an apex predator when he put up the winning bid, or maybe he just knew that a hefty charitable donation is a great way to wrap a premiere and start a party. Well played either way, Mick.

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[Top photo by Sherman]