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updated 9/27/2005 9:25:50 AM ET 2005-09-27T13:25:50

Stephen King’s new horror story focuses on a set of rampaging zombies controlled by cell phones. One may now bear the last name Huizenga.

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King fans around the world spent much of last week on eBay, outbidding each other in an online auction organized by authors selling the rights to name characters in their new novels. Initially conceived as a creative fundraiser for the First Amendment Project, a nonprofit that defends the free speech rights of writers and artists, the auction quickly became the Web site’s most watched item.

As the online auction’s first round closed Sunday night, Pam Alexander of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won the right to name a character in King’s novel, “CELL,” with a $25,100 bid.

“I thought it would be a great gift to give to my brother to have his name in the book,” said Alexander, whose brother, Ray Huizenga, is a longtime King fan. “It’s definitely extravagant but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and he’s worth it.”

Alexander beat out Paul Stegman, of Papillion, Neb., who was poised to take out a credit line on his house to buy a way into King’s head.

“How many times do you have the opportunity to purchase immortality?” said Stegman, who owns 300 King books.

On Sept. 1, eBay Giving Works, the site’s dedicated program for charity listings, went live with the electronic auction. The auction already has fetched well over the nonprofit’s fundraising goal of $50,000.

“We can safely say we’re not going to close now,” said David Greene, executive director of the Oakland-based First Amendment Project. “I’m thrilled.”

The auction’s second phase, which will allow bidders to vie for the chance to name a character in books by John Grisham, Dave Eggers, Neil Gaiman and others continues through Sept. 26.

The benefit was the brainchild of Gaiman, who approached Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon with the idea when he heard the group was running out of money.

It has become the single largest fundraising event for the First Amendment Project, whose lawyers are currently defending a publisher who produces a magazine distributed in prisons and a former sailor seeking information from the U.S. Army.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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