Business

Miami Porn Site Owner Israel Melendez Sells Israel, the Nation, Its Own Twitter Handle

Shamed by Hugo Chavez's 800,000 faithful followers and then really red-faced when North Korea's regime beat them to the punch, Israel decided last month that it was finally time to give this whole Twitter business a try.

The only problem? The @israel handle was already taken -- by a Miami-based porn site owner. And he wasn't exactly interested in giving it up for free.


Israel Meléndez, a Spanish citizen living in Miami, makes a living running the Spanish-language porn site greenshines.com, which offers nude webcams and cheesecake shots of celebrities and models.

Meléndez created the @israel handle way back in 2007 when Twitter was just getting rolling. He already had a handle with his last name, but was looking to shake off an ex-girlfriend by starting the new feed, he tells Publico, a newspaper in Spain.

Unfortunately, he quickly realized that his first name was a bit of a magnet for abuse in the twitterverse.

"My account was basically unused because I was getting dozens of replies every day from people who thought the account belonged to the state of Israel," Meléndez says in an interview this morning with the New York Times.

So Meléndez forgot about the account and went about his porn-filled daily life until a couple weeks ago when the Israeli consulate in Miami called: they wanted the handle.

Being a good businessman, Meléndez asked how much the handle was worth to the Israelis. The answer? A pretty penny. Meléndez eventually ended up with a six-figure deal, Publico reports.

"We thought we could put it to better use than he did," Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry tells the Times.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink