The College GameDay Venmo Kid Did It For Harambe

An exclusive Twitter direct message interview with our nation's newest hero

Photo Illustration: Vocativ
Sep 12, 2016 at 11:47 AM ET

The signage at College GameDay broadcasts is a cauldron of creativity, but it’s usually relegated to broadcasting inside jokes, profanity, or rival bashing. Rarely do the signs held by fans at ESPN’s football pregame shows venture into the practical. An exception is Sam Crowder, a 23-year-old college student, who hoisted a cardboard sign jokingly asking his mom to transfer beer money to his Venmo account

The result was an avalanche of donations from strangers who appreciated his moxie and ingenuity. Venmo, seizing the free marketing opportunity, gave Crowder $50 and later reported that he received more than 3,000 donations in all. Attending a college football game has never been so profitable.

Crowder spoke with Vocativ over Twitter direct messages while in class on Monday morning, but was circumspect about providing too many details; he didn’t even specify which school he attends. He declined to note the exact monetary amount of his newfound wealth, writing, “I think I can retire. Just kidding lmao. I don’t feel comfortable giving an exact amount, but it’s a lot.”

Like any good stunt, this one was born out of simple curiosity: “Just to see if it would work lmao,” Crowder wrote. He said he was surprised by the response and only expected a handful of people to chip in beer money to a complete stranger. However, even if the average donation out of the more than 3,000 was only $5, he would have netted more than $15,000—that’ll buy a whole lot of Yuengling, his beer of choice.

Of course, a sudden and public source of income carries some additional considerations.

There was one other obvious motivation for Crowder: the meme-driving noble gorilla who was taken too soon. Crowder’s twitter profile of the account he created this weekend carries the hashtag #BeersOutForHarambe, and he tweeted this for all the world to see: