What Is the Truth Behind Jake the Alligator Man?

Jack the Alligator Man is a fake mummified alligator and human hybrid on permanent display at Marsh’s Free Museum in Long Beach, Wash. According to legend, the mummy was once alive and part of a touring circus act. The operators of Marsh’s purchased the figure from an antique dealer in 1967 for $750.

Jake the Alligator Man has had a cult following, evidenced by bumper stickers bearing his image, throughout the Pacific Northwest for decades. He became even more famous in 1993 when the Weekly World News tabloid printed his picture alongside the headline, “Half-human, half-alligator discovered in Florida swamp.”

The owners of Marsh’s say that many people stop in to share stories of having seen or met Jake in previous years. The family began collecting curiosities, many of which are on display in the museum, during the 1930s. Jake remains the most popular of these, drawing visitors who tour the museum just to see him.

Each year, the Long Beach Merchants Association throws a birthday party for Jake. The event continues to grow each year, and it includes live music, a “Bride of Jake” competition, a car show and a number of contests. The party is regularly publicized in Portland and Seattle media.