Will Drew Barrymore Pay for an Awesome Twitter Name?

A blogger with a popular Twitter account is auctioning it off for charity

By Jackson West
|  Friday, Oct 2, 2009  |  Updated 2:25 PM EDT
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Twitterheads: Celebrities Who Tweet

Drew Olanoff manages online communities professionally, but a bout of cancer has him preaching a more personal gospel.

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Hey, Drew Barrymore -- want to be "@drew" on Twitter? If you get the sweet username, you can blame a chatty Web guy with cancer.

Blogger Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkins lymphoma in late May this year, and he hasn't shut up about it, online or off -- with good reason.

Rather than actually blaming his cancer, he created BlameCancer.org, while friends and admirers have been blaming Drew's cancer for everything from colds to Kanye West and posting it online at sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to raise awareness -- and cash -- he created a Facebook Cause, which has managed to help raise $4,000 in direct contributions for the Livestrong Foundation created by cycling legend and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

Olanoff was also an early Twitter adopter who managed to nab the account name "@drew" before any of the likely thousand or more Drews who now use the service had a chance.

Those Twitter fanboys and fangirls include Hollywood celebrities, who've lately taken to Twitter like they have to cults and plastic surgery, in the process creating a cottage industry of ghost writers and publicist interns who keep their accounts fresh.

Barrymore has her directorial debut, Whip It, about to open nationwide, which got Olanoff thinking.

"I don't think she uses Twitter," Olanoff told NBC Bay Area. "I'm pretty sure she doesn't. She should! Why not start with the best Twitter name you could possibly have?"

So Olanoff is opening the bidding for his Twitter handle, minus the followers and with the blessing of company cofounder Ev Williams, at $10,000. Officially, Twitter's terms of use forbid the sale of account names or details for profit, but since any and all money is going directly to Livestrong, Williams has declared it fair game.

Olanoff will be conducting the auction openly on Twitter, and betting that the well-intentioned goal will self-select for a fair name game. So simply post a tweet with an offer and add the tag "#drewbid" to price your place.

He'll award the account to the highest bid made by midnight, Eastern Time, on November 9 -- a birthday made possible by the advances in cancer research that have given cases like his an 80-85 percent chance of remission after undergoing chemotherapy.

Ten thousand bucks seems like a lot, but it's only half what Olanoff reports he's already raised online for projects like Livestrong, the American Cancer Society and the Make-A-Wish Foundation -- without their permission, necessarily, but without any benefit to himself beyond the inevitable research advances made.

The likes of Barrymore, comedian Drew Carey, quarterback Drew Brees or Web entrepreneur Drew Curtis could turn up $10,0000 in their walking-around money. And Twitter was recently valued by Bay Area venture capitalists at $1 billion, many orders of magnitude more arbitrary.

But even with all that built-in potential, Olanoff worries. "Is $10k too much to ask?" Says the man who's set the "Buy it now" price at $1 million, entirely seriously. Yet, "a bunch of Drews could come out of the woodwork," and who's to say a few can't match or beat that price?

Photo by Randy Stewart.

Jackson West is just glad that Drew went from blaming that cancer to beating that cancer.

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