At Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Cooper and a group of celebrities joined forces to set the record for most retweets ever for a single tweet.
Now, however, their record is in jeopardy, thanks to a mustachioed Texas man and his two fluffy puppies, Oreo and Max.
Beaumont, Texas, resident Terry Shipman jokingly tweeted out the following photo — his fourth tweet ever — on Tuesday evening. With the tweet, he attached the winking hope that he could somehow match the retweet count (about 3.2 million) of Ellen’s photo. Shipman’s tweet was addressed to the Internet generally and his 20 or so Twitter followers specifically.
The idea that Shipman could beat Hollywood royalty was quixotic, of course. It was a joke. Shipman had two dozen followers; Ellen had millions. Shipman took his selfie in his home, alone but for his wife, Nancy; Ellen snapped hers live on air, with some of the biggest celebrities in the world, on one of the most-watched live telecasts of the year.
Though it’s nowhere close to catching Ellen’s record, Shipman’s charming tweet took off. As of this writing, it’s topped 43,000 retweets and counting. Even if it never hits the millions, that’s still pretty impressive for a guy who had only 20 followers as of about 15 hours ago. (He has now accumulated more than 1,000 on the strength of this tweet.)
As the tweet gained momentum, there were questions as to whether this was another Internet hoax, perhaps perpetrated by notorious viral prankster Jimmy Kimmel. But Michael Shipman, Terry’s son, insists that this is just one of those bizarre cases of instant Internet fame.
“He’s very surprised by the attention,” Michael said in an email. “When he sent out the tweet, he was expecting just a retweet or two. Nothing like this at all.”
Somehow, the tweet snowballed. It’s been retweeted by baseball players, swimsuit model and Twitter super-user Chrissy Teigen and the BuzzFeed employees and news junkies that lurk Twitter at all hours of the night. (Guilty!)
The photo that Shipman and his pups have in their sights.
Unlike the Twitter obsessives that have vaulted him to instant fame, however, Shipman, 66, isn’t much of a Twitter user, his son says. Originally from South Carolina, he moved to Beaumont to study civil engineering and now owns an engineering and land surveying firm there.
So: Will Terry Shipman’s Selfie with Dogs really catch Ellen’s Selfie with Celebrities? Terry’s son thinks there’s at least a shot.
“Honestly with all the love and support he is getting, I think he could,” Michael said. “It might take longer, but I think it could happen.”
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