In the years since George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the Florida native has vacillated between two, seemingly opposite personas—that of the recluse who tries desperately (and oftentimes unsuccessfully) to avoid the public eye at all costs, and that of a liberty-loving patriot-cum-celeb, surfacing for the occasional interview or public appearance before submerging once again.
It was that second persona which was firmly on display when it was announced Wednesday that Zimmerman planned to sell the gun used in the 2012 Martin shooting on the firearm dealer site gunbroker.com, with bids starting at $5,000. There, he referred to the Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm pistol as an "American Firearm icon," and claimed that a portion of the sale proceeds would be put toward fighting "Hillary Clinton's anti-firearm rhetoric"
This is not, however, the first time Zimmerman has resorted to eyebrow-raising schemes in an attempt to earn money.
Since the murder trial of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman has engaged in a series of questionable (and questionably profitable) projects, as he faces significant debt stemming from multi-million dollar legal fees, and a difficult time finding regular employment.
Just six months after his 2013 acquittal, Zimmerman began selling paintings he'd made in the six months since the Martin trial's conclusion. The first painting, a blue-toned American flag featuring the words, was titled, "God One Nation with Liberty and Justice For All." On the painting's eBay page, Zimmerman reportedly wrote:
First hand painted artwork by me, George Zimmerman. Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself. I found a creative, way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences. My art work allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet and allows me to remain indoors :-) I hope you enjoy owning this piece as much as I enjoyed creating it. Your friend, George Zimmerman
The painting went on to sell to an anonymous bidder for more than $100,000 dollars, despite being characterized as "appalling" and "paint by number" by New York Observer art critic Andrew Russeth. This sale would end up being the high point of Zimmerman's entrepreneurial path, as his next painting—a portrait of Florida prosecutor Angela Corey—would find the artist accused of copying a photograph taken for The Associated Press.
While it was widely reported that he'd sold a subsequent painting of Trayvon Martin for upwards of $30,000 shortly thereafter, those claims were proven to be a hoax.
In early 2014, Zimmerman was approached by promoter Damon Feldman to participate in a "celebrity boxing match" against rapper DMX. The fight was to be financially backed by British billionaire Alki David, but was canceled at the last minute by Feldman, who told Rolling Stone at the time, "I looked into the eyes of my son and daughter today and couldn't imagine someone killing them and getting off scot-free. It just really hurt. It was a tough decision because I could have made two million dollars here, but at least I have my dignity. I'm happy. Thank you."
Shortly after the boxing match cancelation, Zimmerman appeared at an Orlando gun show, where only 20 people reportedly approached him for an autograph or photo, over the course of his six hour stay.
In the summer of 2015, Zimmerman returned to painting, partnering with Andy Hallinan, a gun store owner who infamously declared his Florida Gun Supply storefront a "Muslim-free zone," to raffle off prints of Zimmerman's painting of the Confederate battle flag. Proceeds from the $50 sales were reportedly to be used to “support… legal funds, living expenses and advancing [Hallinan's store's] mission to change the country.”
The collaboration was profiled in a short documentary put out by Hallinan's store.
Which brings us to this latest episode, and Zimmerman's increasingly desperate-seeming attempts to capitalize off his fading notoriety, as his pool of supporters—seemingly a handful of sparsely populated, little-updated Facebook pages, and overtly racist white supremacist websites—dwindles (wrote one redditor: "His actions since the trial have made me quite embarrassed for the support I gave him before and during the trial. Much of his post trial shenanigans I've waved away with the chicken egg concept, but each one gets worse".)
While the online listing for Zimmerman's pistol has since been removed by gunbroker.com, it remains to be seen whether he's will simply shift the sale elsewhere, or take the hint altogether. Still, if the past few years are any indication, Zimmerman—who in 2015 claimed to be $2.5 million dollars in debt—isn't going away any time soon.