The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 27, 2012

Alabama family's surprise is watched by millions

— OXFORD, Ala. (AP) — The night before Daniel Buckhannan exchanged gifts with his father, he could barely sleep.

"I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it," he said.

After he gave the gift — a ticket to the Bowl Championship Series title game between Alabama and Notre Dame — he's had a little more trouble with restful nights.

"I had to get up in the middle of the night and turn my phone off because I was getting so many direct messages and whatnot," Buckhannan said Wednesday afternoon.

And that's been the Oxford resident's life since he uploaded the 90-second video of his father, Don, finding that ticket tucked inside a Bear Bryant-style fedora.

First it was being excited about modest YouTube views and a Twitter mention by writer and radio show host Clay Travis. Now, it's at more than 3.3 million hits and early-morning phone calls come from New York television producers.

"We thought it was hilarious when it had 5,000 views on YouTube," Don said.

Added Daniel, "We never thought about something like this."

Travis, a writer at southern sports website Outkick the Coverage, said he knew almost as soon as he heard Don exclaim the first "Hot diggity dog," just for getting the hat. Then 23 seconds in when Don's smile broke and he was engulfed by a tsunami of emotions, Travis was certain the viral sky was the limit.

"I think I've got a decent internal thought process," Travis said of a video's vial appeal after the countless numbers he receives from his followers. "It's that great essence of why people love sports.

"It's that rare unvarnished emotion."

Around 11 p.m., Travis tweeted "Bama grandpa gets BCS title tickets. Merry Christmas," with the video to his more than 63,000 Twitter followers, and the rest is Internet history.

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