U.S government officials are hurriedly trying to hush up an embarrassing adminstration error which led to a schoolboy in Yorkshire buying the state of Wyoming for £17.50, plus tax, on the eBay website.
The gaff occurred because of the weakened state of the dollar against the pound and a quite monumental computer error.
A White House spokesman claimed that the government was doing everything in its power to return Wyoming to American rule and was currently negotiating with Matthew Smudge, 14, of Settle in Yorkshire to resolve the potential crisis.
Matthew put in the highest bid for the American state, just three minutes before the sale's deadline expired, narrowly beating a Mrs Poole, from the Isle of Man, who had bid £16.75. eBay company policy forbids a seller from backing out of a deal after the deadline has passed but the U.S government are hoping to persuade Matthew to return the state as "faulty product".
The teenager had visited the eBay website specifically to search for products from America after seeing a news report on the fall of the dollar against the pound to a 14-year low. He was actually looking for a new iPod and was surprised to find an entire American site up for grabs, but decided "it might come in handy if someone has a birthday coming up".
On having bought the state, he had initially decided to give it to his Aunt Ethel for her wedding anniversary but later relented when he learnt that he was now legally entitled to pass laws in his new state. Thus, as of today, it is illegal to sweat in the state of Wyoming and people called Kenneth are obliged to speak only in Flemish.
The government managed to avoid further embarrassment when it noticed that the state of Texas had also been put up for sale and succeeded in halting the transaction prior to the deadline. It was later revealed that the state had been up for sale for over three hours but had received only one bid, of three euros and twenty cents.
White House sources have promised that the matter will be resolved within 24 hours and that reports of Wyoming being re-named as Smudge-ville and officially declaring war on Nebraska are mere speculation.