Lance Armstrong will be burned in effigy in England Saturday, though the reason is not quite as nasty as it could be.
The disgraced cyclist will be “honored” by the town of Edenbridge, which picks a celebrity villain each year for its Bonfire Night celebration.
“We’re not doing it because we hate the guy — there’s no malice at all,” Edenbridge Bonfire Society coordinator Charles Laver told Sharon Marris of This Is Kent. “This is just our impression of what he is and who he is.”
Traditionally, Bonfire Night in England is for burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, in commemoration of the November 5, 1605, Gunpowder Plot (and if that doesn’t ring a bell, think V for Vendetta and Occupy).
But as the Associated Press reported, Edenbridge is “nationally famous” for burning contemporary figures instead.
According to Yahoo!’s World of Sport, Edenbridge has opted for a person from the world of sports for three straight years, with footballers Mario Balotelli and Wayne Rooney preceding Armstrong.
“Lance Armstrong is certainly the biggest villain in sport, with fans across the globe feeling cheated by a man who was thought to be whiter than white,” said Edenbridge spokesman Mark Young.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former First Lady Cherie Blair, comedian Russell Brand, and busty celebrity model Katie Price are some of the other people who have been ignited in the past. (See this Daily Telegraph photo gallery for more.)
The Armstrong effigy by artist Frank Shepherd is thirty feet tall, and includes a sign that reads “FOR SALE, RACING BIKE, no longer required.”
Armstrong is also outfitted in a yellow Nike jersey, and is holding a mock Tour de France trophy.
The Austin athlete almost missed out on the honor to the late British TV personality Jimmy Savile, who is now at the center of a decades-long sexual abuse scandal involving underage girls. But the town decided that they didn’t want its younger children wondering why Savile was chosen. But the Armstrong effigy includes an add-on that reflects the country’s horror at Savile: a sign around its neck that reads, “JIM FIXED IT FOR ME,” a darkly comic reference to Savile’s longtime BBC show, Jim’ll Fix It.