Only on 9: Q&A with subject of iconic ECU ‘Superfan’ photo - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Only on 9: Q&A with subject of iconic ECU ‘Superfan’ photo

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In 2009 a picture of an ECU fan surrounded by unenthused UNC students went viral after being featured as a Sports Illustrated ‘Superfan’

Every year when the Pirates and Tar Heels face off, the picture starts making it’s way around the web. Most recently it has been transformed into a viral meme say “I may be a red headed step child - but at least I’m not a tarhole”

9 On Your Side caught up with Alex Denning the Pirate ‘Superfan’ for a Q&A:

9OYS: How did the photo happen? When was it taken and why were you surrounded by Tar Heel fans?

AD: This picture was taken at a UNC-ECU game held in Chapel Hill back in 2009. A friend of mine, who went to UNC, invited me and a couple of other ECU friends to the game. He had a couple of extra tickets, but he warned us that they were in the Tar Heel student section. So the people surrounding me in the picture were UNC students, and they were not pleased to have a guy like me around them. In fact, I entered the game in disguise (don't worry, I wore a plain gray shirt and black pants; nothing blue).

Sometime in the third quarter, my friend George, whose ear can be seen in the photo, noticed there was a photographer taking pictures of people in the crowd, and his camera was pointed right at me. I just did a little nod and pointed at the guy. The photographer waved at me, and I waved back. I thought he was taking pictures for a blog or newspaper. I really didn't think much of it. Now, I would love to get in contact with that guy, and thank him for making my most iconic college moment possible.

9OYS: Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been a pirate fan?

AD: Oh man, I didn't stand a chance growing up with my parents. They met in downtown Greenville in my mom's freshman year, when my dad was working on his second degree. My parents love ECU, and have supported their school for years. I almost didn't go to ECU, but they convinced me to go on a tour. I loved the campus the moment I walked on the mall, and I've been hooked on ECU since. I graduated in 2012 with a double major degree in sociology and English, and I hope to return to ECU to pursue a masters degree in creative writing.

9OYS: There are a lot of pictures of you floating out there. How do you feel about being called a red headed step child?

AD: First of all, let me say that I'm honored to be a meme, and I couldn't be happier that this picture has become such a big deal. However, I've never been a fan of being called a red headed step child. First, I can confirm that I am not a step child, so that's inaccurate. Second, I know there are funnier, more creative Pirate fans who can think of something better than insulting one of their own. C'mon, y'all, I'm on your side! Finally, I sure am glad I'm not a Tar (Heel).

9OYS: After the photo first came out, did you get recognized?

AD: The hoopla first began the Tuesday after the game. I had several friends who sent me a link to Sports Illustrated, and I was right there in the College Super Fan section. From there, the picture went viral, and the rest is history. Since the attire I seen in the photo was the same thing I wore to most home games, people would yell out "Super Fan" at me. After I graduated, I decided to retire the glasses, vest and bandana. So I don't really get recognized that much nowadays, but I don't mind at all.

9OYS: What are you doing now and what are your future plans?

AD:I'm living in Wilmington right now, but I'm hoping to come back to ECU in order to pursue a masters in creative writing. My dream job involves getting paid to write about stories, people and things I find interesting.

9OYS: What's your prediction for the game?

AD: It'll be a close game. If Shane can get going, and if our defense can be productive, ECU should have a solid shot at winning. UNC is in a bit of a rebuilding year, so while a win over them would be awesome, I also predict UNC fans will probably undermine the victory if ECU prevails. I'm calling my Pirates in a close one: 28-24. Go Pirates!

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