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One person's trash is another person's ticket to winning a Chick-fil-a gift card

A potato with a 1 written on it.
Courtesy of Joseph Shuffield
A mysterious potato was found in a yard in Ridgetop last weekend.

Sinister Potatoes.

That’s the title Austinite Joseph Shuffield chose when he reported finding mysterious potatoes with numbers written in red marker in his Ridgetop yard last weekend. His post on the community-networking site Nextdoor garnered 99 reactions and 123 comments as of Friday.

“I put a cheeky thing in Nextdoor to kind of keep it light but also to say ‘What’s going on? Why is there trash in my yard?’” Shuffield said.

Shuffield and his husband, Jason Gomez, found one potato branded with a six by their front porch last Saturday and another marked with a one near their neighbor’s gate on Sunday.

“We couldn’t make something like that up,” Gomez said. “It’s too weird.”

The couple said they suspected they were left over from some sort of game played by college students who live across the street, but they weren’t certain.

“Our neighbors said that actually there were people running around on the property on Thursday night, but we just didn’t notice,” Gomez said.

A potato at the bottom of a compost bin.
Emily Hernandez
The sinister potatoes ended up in the compost bin.

Sure enough, the eight UT students living in the house across the street admitted to conducting a scavenger hunt with the potatoes throughout Austin last Thursday. UT junior Georgia Letchford said five groups of four people were playing for a grand prize of four $10 Chick-fil-a gift cards.

“There’s nothing really much to it,” Letchford said. “We didn’t mean to leave the potatoes in their yard.”

About 13 potatoes were hidden around the Austin area, but the hunt also included dares like asking a stranger for $5 and faking a public proposal.

Although the Nextdoor post was meant to be lighthearted, Shuffield said there’s more to the mystery than just knowing why the potatoes were left on his property.

“I don’t know why [the game] migrated into our lawn,” Shuffield said. “And it’s also kind of trespassing. I don’t really care except that they left trash.”

Gomez said when the couple originally found the potatoes, he was a little afraid something was stolen from the yard.

“I actually caught somebody breaking into the back duplex a couple years ago,” he said. “That kind of thing never usually happens around here.”

The potatoes ended up in the compost bin and may ultimately finish their days fertilizing soil for potentially new potatoes to grow.

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