Today marks 16 years since one of the best (and one of the first) viral videos of all time was born. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed.
The original version of the video has amassed more than 28 million views, not including the remixes and all the other creative variations. Every year around St. Patrick’s Day more and more people are introduced to the video for the first time.
A few years ago, Barstool Sports announced the video is the first-ever induction into its Internet Hall of Fame. Obviously a major honor.
Unfortunately, after all these years, we still don’t know where da gold at.
I’m forever linked to the iconic story because I’m one of the anchors who introduced it on camera. As a result, I’m peppered with questions about it several times a year. One question is often repeated: “Was that a real news story?” The answer is yes and no…
Here’s the annual edition of the backstory: It happened in 2006 when I was working at WPMI, the NBC affiliate in Mobile. It was covered as a real news story…at first. We heard reports of large crowds gathering in the Crichton community and police were being called out. We didn’t know WHY they were gathering. The way I remember it, we weren’t going out there to cover a Leprechaun sighting (that would have been a questionable decision). We were going out there to see why such large crowds were causing problems in the neighborhood. When our crew arrived, things sort of snowballed. People were looking up at a tree and saying there was a Leprechaun in it. A leprechaun.
The WPMI crew started shooting video and that’s when the people of Crichton took over and turned this story into an internet sensation.
The version all over the internet is actually the one that aired on WPMI’s morning newscast. The story’s debut came the previous night. For some reason, that one slipped right past the YouTube uploaders.
In the end, the now-legendary “amateur sketch” was auctioned off on eBay by WPMI and the proceeds donated to charity. I think it pulled in close to $1,000.
My wife and I, along with our two kids, get new Mobile Leprechaun t-shirts every couple of years. CafePress has a great selection.
It’s fun to be part of something that’s talked about so much for so long, although some of my co-workers are probably really tired of it. But I never get tired of hearing about it. It’s funny and ridiculous and makes people laugh. I always say that I could be immortalized on YouTube for something far worse. I’ll take this.
The original story is below.