UPDATE: We finally reached Patrick himself, and take pride in weaving his comments into the story like Clint Dempsey weaving through Ghana’s defense or something.
The most famous Auburn flag in the world (which is also likely the most hated Auburn flag in Mexico) earned its 15 minutes of fame during the broadcast of Mexico’s World Cup win over Croatia Monday thanks to a contest of sorts with an Alabama flag.
The Auburn flag, and its owner, 18-year-old Patrick Keim, won—they won big.
Keim, who will begin his freshman year at Auburn this fall, has been saving up to attend the 2014 World Cup since his freshman year at Mountain Brook High School, where he was a basketball standout. Keim’s oldest brother Bobby graduated from Auburn last year with a degree in engineering; another brother, Austin, is an Auburn senior majoring in Psychology.
Keim traveled to Brazil with two friends, including his best friend Reeves Duggan, a former soccer star at Indian Springs in Birmingham.
Duggan is an Alabama fan.
“His best friend Reeves and he took their respective flags to take to the game to see what would happen,” says Keim’s mother, Kelly Keim, a 1984 Auburn graduate.
Fans of at least three other college football teams—Michigan, Texas A&M, Washington State—also managed to score air time for their flags. Keim’s Auburn flag is the latest.
He tried to get it on TV at Friday’s match between Italy-Costa Rica match. He failed.
On Monday, he knew he’d succeeded—and, thanks to the incessant beeps and vibrations coming from his cell phone, that people had noticed.
“The screens at the game play directly what the globally televised version displays so I knew I could see myself if I got on TV,” Keim says. “I saw myself on the screen for a second so I knew I got on, but knowing the interest (in soccer) in the south… I thought there was no way people would see me. I have no cell service down here so I had no idea what was going on till I got back to the resort and my phone blew up.”
So how did he do it Monday, but not Roll Tide Reeves? Fearlessness, commitment… and maybe his height, Kelly says.
“Every time the ball was on their side of the field he would hold it up,” she says. “Every time during the wave he held it up, and when they scored.”
And pretty much every time the action came his way.
“Unlike SEC football, everyone sat down and never stood up which made my job a little more challenging,” Keim says, “so when a player had the ball on my side of the field right in front of me I would stand up and flash it.”
The Mexico fans at the game probably hated seeing it more than the Alabama fans watching at home.
“The fans behind me would get mad, and I would shoot them a thumbs up to make them less hostile,” Keim says. “When they scored I would jump up and go crazy with it. And whenever the sky cam flew around we would jump up with it.”
Kelly wouldn’t expect anything less.
“That’s him—not afraid to show his spirit,” she says. “He also said during the national anthem he held it up and screamed our national anthem.
“I’m just glad he made it out alive.”
* Auburn introduced intercollegiate soccer to the South; players liked it more than rugby football
* Former AU homecoming queen starring in HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’
* Bama fan legislator introduced bill to abolish Auburn University in 1973
* Auburn wore green jerseys… for two seasons