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In this photo from the Utah National Guard's Facebook page, a patron rides one of the Guard's mechanical bulls at a 2010 event.
Utah Guard says it is not spending $47K on mechanical bulls
First Published Oct 09 2013 09:37 am • Last Updated Oct 09 2013 02:41 pm

It’s no bull, say the Utah National Guard and Mechanical Bull Sales. The two do not have a $47,174 contract, despite appearances on a government bid site that have led to national media attention during a partial government shutdown.

The Utah Guard has used two climbing walls and two mechanical bulls as "conversation-starters" for recruitment at various events, said Lt. Col. Hank McIntire. After one bull broke earlier this year, the Guard contacted Mechanical Bull Sales in July with interest in buying two more mechanical bulls, but their funding request was denied. The Guard and the company remained in touch, however, and on Sept. 4 the Guard posted a solicitation notice at FedBizOpps.gov, with an award notice coming Oct. 7 — this Monday — to Mechanical Bull Sales at a cost of $47,174.

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But both sides say the deal ended with last Tuesday’s shutdown.

"The National Guard called me first thing in the morning," said Mechanical Bull Sales owner Gracienne Myers. She said the Guard told her that they were voiding the purchase offer but that they may buy a lone bull in the future.

"They did the right thing," she said.

Asked to comment about the possibility of buying even a single bull, a slightly exasperated McIntire reiterated: "We’re not going to buy any bulls."

The Utah Guard furloughed 1,200 workers last week, with all but 80 who are federally reimbursed state employees returning Monday.

The story was first reported by Eric Sheiner of cnsnews.com, which says it reports "the news the liberal media distort and ignore." It hasn’t gone over well for the Utah National Guard. Gawker’s Lacey Donohue wrote that "nothing says ‘here’s the message of the National Guard’ quite like a fake bull usually ridden by drunk moms celebrating their naughtiness on ‘Ladies Ride Free’ night at the Crazy Horse Saloon."

Myers said she was interviewed all day Tuesday by TV news outlets.

"I’m not being productive," said the 39-year-old from Brazil who says she has sold bulls in 40 states and 39 countries, including to the king of Saudi Arabia, and was concerned that the reports have done harm to her business by incorrectly stating that the $47,174 is the price of one bull, not two.

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Twitter: @matthew_piper

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