Karen Dobos wants a new name. She feels no connection to her current name (it came from her former husband) or to her previous name (she was Karen Paul when she graduated from Poquoson High School in 1994). So she’s ready to let a complete stranger pick her new surname. For a price.

"The idea really came from joking around with my friends," said the 30-year-old mother of three who lives in Virginia Beach. "I wanted to change my name, and I didn’t have anything particular in mind. Someone had the idea ‘Why not put it up on eBay?’

"I thought about it for a couple of weeks, and then the other night, I was sitting watching TV, and I just sort of said, ‘OK, well … why not?’ "

Her online auction began about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. It will continue through May 5. Bidding starts at $10,000.

In introducing the auction on the site, Dobos explains to potential bidders that she has three children between 5 and 11, works full time and is an A-student just a few credit hours away from an online bachelor’s degree.

"Despite all that," she writes on the site, "I am barely making it. I have a 500-dollar repair to my car that needs made, all my kids need summer clothes and new sneakers. I’m barely making my mortgage payments and often struggle to keep food on the table. That’s what’s in it for me."

The auction has drawn an opening bid of $10,000. She has promised to legally change her name to whatever the high bidder chooses and to maintain that name for a minimum of one year for every $1,000.

"I’m not too worried, I guess," she said recently.

"I put in the terms of the auction that it can’t be obscene or illegal or discriminatory. Whatever I change my name to has to be approved by a judge in court, so I’m not too worried."

She figured that bidders would fall into one of three potential categories:

Good-hearted philanthropists who want to help a mother and her children.

Pranksters who have no intention of coughing up the money.

Businesses who figure that they could cash in on the publicity when she changes her name to Karen Pepsi-Cola or … oh, say … Karen dailypress.com.

"A couple of my friends think I’ve lost my mind," she said. "But it could turn out to be a great way to make money for me and my kids. And the worst thing that could come from it is that I’m out $5 for the listing fee and I made a whole bunch of people laugh."

Vis the Daily Press