Over the last 24 hours, all of the country has been scrambling to find out who the three lucky people who won a slice of the $640 million Mega Million jackpot are.
Quickly, social media gave us the first. Chris Cunningham — a senior hospitality and tourism management major at Virginia Tech — posted a picture of the winning ticket on his Twitter account less than an hour after the drawing and it took off from there.
There’s just one problem with the fairytale story: It was a hoax.
Cunningham and three friends Brian Evans, Matthew Folkemer and KJ Harkness saw the lottery as an opportunity to trick the entire world. The idea came to them while they were getting ready to go out like any other Friday night, when they had a better idea.
“We used Photoshop and made the ticket look very legit and we Tweeted it,” Cunningham said. “All we Tweeted was, ‘Our lives have changed.’ All four of us Tweeted, but for some reason, everyone thought it was me. Next thing I knew, I blew up.
“We were literally just about to go out and we were like, ‘We could drink tonight, or we could fool the world and get ourselves trending on Twitter,’” he said.
The plan worked, as Cunningham said he has been trending on Twitter all over the world, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Brazil. Cunningham now has more than 9,000 followers on Twitter and has seemingly become the most sought after bachelor in the country.
“I had girls saying they wanted to marry me, I had porn stars sending personal invites to come to their city,” Cunningham said. “I’ve been hit up by Good Morning America, I’ve been hit up by CNN, UK, ESPN radio — but it was an April Fools Joke. I didn’t win it.”
The groups’ entire goal going into this was to try and get on Comedy Central’s show Tosh.0, hosted by comedian Daniel Tosh.
“That was literally the whole goal — to get on Tosh.0,” Cunningham said.
Even as he got hundreds of messages all day from friends and media outlets, he stayed firmly attached to his goal, stating on Twitter, ““No interviews unless your name is Daniel tosh @danieltosh #CHAMonTOSH.”
That aspiration could very well be in the future too, as Comedy Central has contacted Cunningham this afternoon.
Cunningham earned his 15 minutes of fame by exploiting the flaws in relying on social media such as Twitter and has successfully pulled off one of the best April Fools pranks of all time.
“Through social media, we tricked all of these people,” Cunningham said. “I haven’t gotten anything but phone calls all day.”
If there’s been one downside to a plan that seemingly could not have gone better, it is that his hometown of Martinsville, Va. is now in a frenzy thinking one of its residents has literally hit the jackpot.
Cunningham’s parents have had to unplug their phone from the wall because of all of the calls they were getting and didn’t know how to respond, as they were aware it was a joke as well.
“I told them last night I was going to try this to see if it would work,” he said. “They didn’t think it would.”
But eventually, Cunningham will have to go home and admit that he isn’t going to be buying anything extravagant any time soon.
“My hometown thinks I’m a millionaire, and I’m going to have to tell everyone it’s a joke — that’s going to suck," he said.
Winning tickets were sold in Kansas, Illinois and Baltimore, Md. Out of those, Cunningham was claiming he had possession of the one bought in Baltimore, where he claimed he'd been to shoot a music video with Harkness, known as Killa J, earlier in the week.