The state of Nebraska dealt with a lot of mockery when they unveiled their new license plate design for 2017. The plate, which was supposed to depict the Nebraska Sower, a statue of a man throwing seeds from the top of the state Capitol building, was called boring by some. Others found it “sexually suggestive,” pointing to the way that the man is holding his sack; that is to say, his satchel of grain.
Now, according to a report from CBS Local, the plates have been pulled from production. That said, KMTV reports that the plates weren’t pulled due to criticism at all, “sexually suggestive” or not. No, the reasoning for pulling the new plates was much simpler… and much sillier.
The Nebraska license plates feature the wrong statue – a fact that nobody at the Department of Motor Vehicles had bothered to check before putting a submission from a 15-year-old contest into production.
“It was just a mistake on my part,” said 43-year-old Jeff Heldt of Omaha, the artist of the suspect plates, noting that (not actually being in Lincoln, the state capitol) he’d taken his reference from an image on the web.
“There’s no conspiracy around it. In 2002, there weren’t a lot of great pictures of the sower online. That was one of the more detailed ones.”
Heldt had submitted the image for a license plate contest in 2002, but it turned out that his reference image was actually a picture of a relief sculpture on Michigan State University’s campus in East Lansing. Heldt didn’t realize that his contest entry had been used for the new license plate until he saw a newspaper article about the new design for the 2017 plates; going through his files, he determined that the new plates were in fact based on his original contest entry.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said through a representative that he “appreciates the designer stepping forward to explain the sources he used to develop the submission.”
DMV Director Rhonda Lahm has promised that the plates will be redesigned and will be back in production soon.
“Given that we know with certainty that the image incorporated an element of a different sower, production has been stopped on the new license plate. The DMV will work to substitute a more accurate image of The Sower, so that production can resume in the near future. The DMV anticipates no additional costs as a result of this change.”
This isn’t the first time that the Nebraska DMV has had issues with new plates. In 2009, they invited the public to vote online on their new license plate design, and we all know that asking the internet to vote on something always goes well. After the poll closed, the DMV felt forced to throw out thousands of votes after they realized that a humor website had urged readers to”ruin the poll” by voting for the “most boring plate.” Beverly Neth, the DMV Director at the time, said that she had “disqualified the votes” when it became “clear that the site’s malicious intent was realized.”
“On Thursday, May 7, I was advised that an external website had linked to our license plate voting survey. The site’s stated intent was to ‘ruin the poll’ by urging individuals to vote for plate #2, which in their words was the most boring plate.”
Not that the DMV is having much better luck with online polls in 2016; KMTV conducted their own poll which showed that 88 percent of voters dislike the new Nevada plates.
Some days, you just can’t win. But picking the right picture helps.
[AP Photo/Anna Gronewold, File]