Request For Sports Photobombs Makes Penn State Assistant AD Goes Viral

    • On the night of June 21, Chris Grosse, Penn State’s assistant AD for marketing, asked his Twitter followers: “What is your favorite sports-related, unintentional photobomb of yourself?”
    • Grosse’s post, which has inspired quote retweets from people ranging from Adam Schefter to Nick Mangold, has generated more than 1.5 million impressions and 600K engagements.

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To his more than 4,500 Twitter followers, Chris Grosse might be known best for his role as Penn State’s assistant athletics director for marketing, as he uses the sharing some insights about his career.

But despite working for one of the most prominent institutions, he also uses the social media platform to talk about other topics – as well as frequently poll his followers random innocuous questions. Recently those have ranged from “You’ve got ONE song to pump up your team’s fan base. What team is it and what song do you play?” to, “Who is the most famous athlete from your hometown? (Other than yourself, of course).”

“On my personal Twitter account, I’m more interactive and showcase a little bit of what I’m doing at my work and a little bit of what interests me,” Grosse said. “I’m also engaging with people in our sports industry, networking, and just trying to create conversations.”

While not necessarily huge conversation drivers – as many as 60 people have responded to some of them – Grosse enjoyed engaging with those that participated, especially when the question went further out into the Twittersphere.

But on June 21, Grosse was stuck like most young parents in a familiar position: waiting for his kids to fall asleep. Grosse said that they do not like it when he and his wife leave the room before they fall asleep, so he spent most of the night on the floor, hoping that they would go to bed. 

During this agonizing, but typical, ritual, Grosse thought of a random question: “What is your favorite sports-related, unintentional photobomb picture of yourself?” Curious to see what others would say, the father of two asked his Twitter followers at 8:11 p.m. to name their favorite accidental photobomb. His own personal moment saw him lurking behind Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball head coach Patrick Ewing in his first season with the team in 2017. 

Grosse had little sense of what would happen next.

“I sent it out Sunday night and really… it was just nonstop,” he said. “My phone was exploding with notifications, and it was really cool to see everybody’s reaction to it.”

As of four days since that tweet, Grosse has seen his question spread throughout the sports world, generating more than 4,100 retweets and 1,800 likes. 

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Engagement with it also came from nearly every facet of sports. While Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan stood arms crossed during a game, NBA writer Royce Young could be seen in the background Facetiming his baby. NFL reporter Adam Schefter retweeted a photo of him behind Ben Roethlisberger following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl XLIII win over the Arizona Cardinals. Former New York Jets center Nick Mangold posted a photo of him behind then-teammate Willie Colon during a locker-room interview. Sports personalities and reporters ranging from Matthew Barry to Ian Rapoport tweeted pictures of them photobombing notable hip-hop artists like Jay Z and Meek Mill.

Grosse’s initial tweet calling for photobomb posts has drawn upwards of 1.5 million impressions, more than 611,000 engagements, and an engagement rate of 40.4%. The Ewing tweet has exceeded 416,540 impressions and 172,130 impressions, good for an overall engagement of 41.3%.

“With this one, I guess it got in front of the right people,” Grosse said. “They happened to have some really good photobombs, and it kind of took off.”

With other notable sports figures like journalist J.A. Adande and former two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long joining in on Grosse’s viral question, Grosse wonders what the overall impact of his one tweet had on Twitter.

Whatever engagement it saw, Grosse is just happy that it gave those working in sports something to enjoy during these challenging times.

“It just gives people a chance to laugh and to take their mind off of the fact that we don’t have sports the way that we’re used to right now,” he said. “It gives people a chance to relive some good memories and share those memories with everybody, and it’s been cool to watch how it’s grown and taken off.”