The Mobile Leprechaun turns 18!

This week marks 18 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, but it has managed to stay top-of-mind and grow more in popularity each year.

The Chive wrote about the 18th anniversary a couple of weeks ago.

The original uploaded version of the video has amassed nearly 29 million views, not including the remixes and other creative variations. Every year around St. Patrick’s Day more and more people are introduced to the video for the first time.

In 2018, Barstool Sports bestowed an incredible honor upon the Mobile legend — it announced the video as the first-ever induction into its Internet Hall of Fame.

Over the years, Justin Timberlake has tweeted about the Leprechaun and called it his favorite viral video. It has also been featured multiple times by Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

Unfortunately though, after all these years, we still don’t know where da gold at.

I’m forever linked to this iconic story because I’m one of the anchors who introduced it to the world. 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 gathering 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 day after. The story’s debut came the previous night. For some reason, that one slipped right past the YouTube uploaders. Keep in mind, viral videos weren’t really a thing yet in 2006. YouTube had only been around a year or so. If you would have told me then that we’d still be talking about the Mobile Leprechaun in 2024, I would have said you’re crazy. Today, I use it in my Social Media Boot Camp presentations as an example of “you never know what could go viral.”

A few years ago, my friend and former Orlando TV news colleague, Craig Lucie, “interviewed” me about the story. This is a must-watch.

In the end, the now-legendary “amateur sketch” was auctioned off on eBay and the proceeds donated to charity. I think it pulled in around $1,000.

My family gets new Mobile Leprechaun merchandise every couple of years. CafePress has a great selection of gear.

The original video is below, followed by an “enhanced” version of the story. Need more? Just search Mobile Leprechaun on YouTube.