Over 30 years ago, paleontologist Stan Sacrison discovered a mostly complete, 39-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex in the hills of South Dakota. Excavated in 1992, “Stan” spent many years at the private Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, South Dakota.

However, in October 2020, Christie’s sold the T. rex for a record $31.8 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a fossil. The anonymous buyer was not identified as scientists and paleontologists argued over the impact of the private sale and how it would harm the collections and sharing of fossils. Meanwhile, many tried to figure out who the buyer was who was able to drive the price up so high, so fast.

“Do the right thing: totally relinquish your ownership of the fossil and donate it to an accredited natural history museum so that science can ethically be done on Stan for the benefit of everyone on the planet who has an interest in dinosaurs,” paleontologist Thomas Carr urged of the anonymous buyer. But alas, the buyer remained silent and no one knew who it was.

Potentially until now.

During his appearance on the Monday Night Football ManningCast, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was seated with a large dinosaur skull off of his shoulder. Plenty of people noticed it and wondered what it was and what the story was.

Eventually, Eli asked The Rock about it and he started talking about “Stan.”

“That’s Stan. As a matter of fact, Stan is the most complete T-rex skull ever found, by a young paleontologist and his name was Stan so this T-rex head was named after him,” said The Rock. “Pretty cool and badass, isn’t it?”

All of those details would confirm that it is indeed the “Stan” in question and that Johnson was indeed the buyer, much to the surprise of many.


It is possible that his “Stan” is a replica as many fake versions of the original fossils were made and used in other museums. You can also purchase a replica skull for “just” $11,500, which could be what it actually is.

But if anyone has $32 million to burn on a dinosaur, it’s The Rock.

UPDATE: Dwayne Johnson claims he’s not the anonymous buyer of Stan the T. rex, and his version is a replica.

[National Geographic]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.