You've always dreamed about finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Over a decade ago, this dream almost came true for the folks of Mobile Alabama. On March 14th, 2006, a news team from WPMI-TV was sent to the Crichton neighborhood to investigate multiple reported sightings of a leprechaun in a tree. On St. Patrick's Day that same year, the footage was uploaded to an up-and-coming website called YouTube and almost instantly became a viral sensation.
And with that, the tale of the Alabama Leprechaun was born.
Now legendary, the Crichton Leprechaun remains one of the most influential and iconic viral videos ever made. From the outlandish cast of characters, the earnestness of the new reporting, and the incredible storyline, this video has had immense staying power throughout its time on the internet. Even 17 years later, theAlabama Leprechaun lure holds out, growing stronger with each new generation discovering its power.
But what makes this video so influential? Let's take a deep dive into the history of this Crichton creature and dissect what exactly made this video go viral.
Just like the news reporters did in 2006, let's get into the Crichton Leprechauns who, what, when, where, and why.
In the Crichton Community, word travels fast. Once talks of leprechaun sightings began spreading, crowds started to gather in and down Le Cren Street, with everyone eager to spot the mysterious creature. Soon, the local NBC affiliate news channel was alerted to the hullabaloo and sent reporter Brian Johnson to investigate the strange sightings.
When he arrived at the scene, history began to take place.
All of Crichton had something to say about the leprechaun. Multiple residents claim to have seen the creature in a tree. Unfortunately, despite trying to catch the creature on tape, there is no video footage of the leprechaun. It was said it would disappear whenever a light shone on the leprechaun. It could only be viewed in the darkness, making the Crichton residents the only lucky viewers of this alleged phenomenon.
An amateur sketch of the leprechaun was submitted to the news channel by resident Nina Thomas-Brown in an attempt to prove the leprechaun's existence:
While hilarious, the sketch didn't shed much light on this situation. Since the leprechaun wasn't going to be caught on camera, Brian Johnston took to interviewing some of the Crichton residents instead.
Brian began his report by interviewing one of the most enthusiastic men ever put on the news. Though unidentified, his grinning face is all the audience needed to see. Excitedly, he asked the crowd, "Who all seen the leprechaun, say yeah!" followed by a cheering crowd. This clip has been immortalized on several comedy shows since, such asSouth Park and theKey & Peele Show. Several other Alabama Leprechaun sketches have been made over the years, proving just how influential this video was.
Not all believed in the legend of the leprechaun. This man reasonably explained that the creature was most likely an illusion caused by some thick branches or shadows cast by the leaves. Another woman, in another very rational thought, assumed it was just someone who got hold of the wrong stuff and decided climbing a tree was the best option. Either way, these rational thinkers acted as voices of reason, however boring the voice of reason can sometimes be.
First seen directing traffic and reassuring residents not to be afraid, Demarco Morrissette was interviewed as a Leprechaun hunter. Suited in a camo fit and bulletproof vest, he shows off his special Leprechaun flute that had been passed down to his family for generations, beginning with his Irish great-great-grandfather. He just came to help out, and Crichton (and the world) was better for it.
This Crichton resident was very honest about his reasons for seeking out the leprechaun. Not one for wanting to spot the creature itself, he was more into something a bit more valuable – he believed the creature's pot of gold was buried under the tree. Claiming he would run a backhoe through the tree, the man just wanted to know where the gold was. When opportunity knocks, this man is ready and waiting to answer the door.
Let's also give some credit to Brian Johnson himself. Though faceless throughout the video, he guides you along this insane journey with the grace and professionalism of a true journalist. Without him trying to interview such a wide range of residents, this legend of the Mobile Leprechaun would never have gained any traction. So thank you, Brian, for giving the world exactly what it was missing.
The news piece was aired only twice on WPMI's nightly and morning newscast, introduced by anchors Scoot Walker and Nikole Patrick. The broadcast was only viewed by a couple of thousand people watching the news that day, but the view count would quickly change. After being posted on YouTube only a few days later, on March 17th, the video would go on to be viewed by millions worldwide, becoming one of the platform's first viral videos.
The piece would garner attention from dozens of news outlets and pop culture platforms, from the Howard Stern Show to Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor. The New York Times even picked up on the story, with columnist Virginia Heffernan calling the clip "a local Alabama news segment that seems too hilarious to be real."
Don't forget about the merchandise! With so many quotable moments, a hilarious cast of characters, and an iconic police sketch of the leprechaun, there was no way that the video wouldn't become marketable. Mass amounts of t-shirts, mouse pads, and other merchandise were produced to cash in on the viral hit. Many of the Mobile Leprechaun shirts are still worn with pride whenever St. Patty's Day comes around, and you could always sport one this year too.
The video would only continue to receive media attention, even years later. In 2011, Daniel Tosh of Tosh 2.0 featured the clip in his "Web Investigation" segment, interviewing people involved in the sensation. Even now, the video continues to receive media attention around St. Patty's Day, with news outlets providing updates on the story and traveling down memory lane to a time when the internet felt simpler.
Also, was that leprechaun sketch given to the police? It would go on to be auctioned off on eBay for $1,100, with all proceeds being donated to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. So much good came out of this video, and the fact that it also helped raise money for charity is the cherry on top.
So, what really happened that fateful night in Crichton?
Some believed the case was cracked in 2014when a couple of radio hosts from The Bob and Dan Show took a trip down to Mobile to interview locals about the leprechaun incident. Many witnesses urged them to meet Sean—a man who claimed to have thrown on some green clothing and climbed up a tree as a prank. While this claim could have merit, it's not as fun to believe. Plus, an entire leprechaun legacy can't be wrapped up in such a pretty bow.
So, was this really a case of mass leprechaun sightings in real life? Was it just Sean up in that tree? Or perhaps it was a case of mob mentality gone haywire? The real truth may never be discovered. But that's okay; some things are better left unknown, and the mystery of the Mobile Leprechaun will forever remain in our hearts (and on the internet).
With St. Patty's Day coming up, it only seems right to commemorate this iconic viral video by dressing up as your own type of leprechaun. Now, you don't need to jump in trees and get an entire town riled up, but wearing a little green never hurts anyone. And who knows, maybe if you wear just the right Alabama Leprechaun shirt, you could be the next viral sensation too.
There's no shortage of St. Patty's Day merch atFamous In Real Life to keep your party mood going strong. There's even a version of the Mobile Leprechaun t-shirt that will get your party guests giggling. And if no one at your party gets the reference, you have the perfect video to show them.
Here are some of our favorite party t-shirts, sweaters, and socks that will keep you feeling green and avoiding pinches this St. Patty's Day.
Who said leprechauns needed to be short? Prove that size doesn't matter in this hilarious number.
Don't feel like committing to the bit and wearing a suit? Yeah, you seem like more of a simple solutions type of person. Skip the bow tie and try on a t-shirt instead—you'll thank us later.
The perfect shirt for the person who likes puns AND has great taste in music. Get a good laugh from the crowd while also flexing your Spotify playlist.
March 28, 2023
Is it a green Leprecaun?
No it snot!