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Seventy-one days ago the only people who knew who Katherine Webb was were Outkick the Coverage readers. That’s because we introduced Webb to the college football masses on December 27th of 2012. Webb had around 150 followers on Twitter then and after I posted this article she Tweeted me to update her employment history. I’d written that she was every man’s dream becaue she was a beauty queen, SEC fan who worked for Chik-fil-A. She wanted me to know that she no longer worked at Chik-fil-A, but she did it in a funny way.
Flash forward to the BCS title game and Webb’s star turn on ESPN.
The moment Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit commented on her, Webb’s life changed forever. But Webb’s life didn’t change because of television, it changed because of social media. In particular, it changed because the media had a tangible storyline to follow, the immediate and inexorable rise of Webb’s Twitter followers. When I asked AJ McCarron after the game what he thought about LeBron James following his girlfriend, the story was everywhere. Yes, Alabama dominated Notre Dame and established itself as a college football dynasty, but that story was boring — Webb’s rise to fame was a more fascinating angle, a Southern girl who showed up in the stadium a relatively anonymous fan and left it a social media star.
Yep, Twitter made Katherine Webb a star.
But it also did something more interesting, Twitter gave Katherine Webb the opportunity to immediately translate that stardom into real opportunities. Inside Edition, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and, last night, debuting on a network reality television show called “Splash.”
But Webb wasn’t the first bombshell that Brent Musburger made famous, that honor belongs to Jenn Sterger, who Musburger “discovered” in September of 2005.
“Fifteen hundred red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State.”
Now, Sterger wasn’t named on the broadcast like Webb was, but Twitter would have found her pretty quickly. After all, Webb’s Twitter handle wasn’t put on ESPN. It was the rapid rise in Twitter interest that made the media aware of the national interest in Webb. But Sterger’s turn in the spotlight came over seven years ago, before there was any way to immediately quantify how much attention she’d received from those red-blooded Americans. As a result Sterger wasn’t inundated with offers to cash in on her newfound fame. She parlayed the ABC star turn into a Maxim and Playboy shoot before writing a column for Sports Illustrated — seriously, SI is shameless when it comes to cashing in on attractive women, yet no one ever calls them on this at all — and a television show with Versus. Along the way she also may have received a penis picture from Brett Favre. In fact, you can argue that without Brent Musburger commenting on how good looking Jenn Sterger was, we would have never seen Brett Favre’s penis.
The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Seven years later, Musburger also discovered Katherine Webb.
The point is simple; Twitter would have made Jenn Sterger a tangible star in a way that television did not and Twitter would have given her opportunities that she didn’t have based solely on the television exposure. Even now, after seven years in the media, Sterger has just 34,000 Twitter followers, a small fraction of Webb’s tally. While she clearly owes her initial attention grab to her looks, Sterger isn’t a bimbo, she’s actually proven herself to be pretty good at a variety of media roles over the past several years. The same can be said for Webb, she’s taken advantage of her Twitter fame and actually made smart strategic decisions in her career.
Television made both women famous, but Twitter gave Webb the platform that Sterger never received.
In fact, we can fairly argue that Katherine Webb is the first Twitter star, a person who otherwise might not have become famous without social media.
Twitter didn’t just make Webb tangibly famous, it also provided her with a bevy of opportunities, she didn’t have to leap at the first chances that were out there. And she didn’t have to seek out any opportunities at all, they all found her.
By way of introduction on last night’s show, Webb said, “Many of you know me as Brent Musburger’s point of interest.”
ABC/ESPN, then ran the clip of Webb that made her famous, the same one that ESPN apologized for the day after the BCS title game. (The fact that no one but Outkick is calling out Disney/ABC/ESPN on the hypocrisy of apologizing for Musburger’s comments and then reairing the comments two months later on network television at 7:25 central is pretty amazing. I mean, think about this for a minute, have you ever known a network to do this? Musburger’s comments were never offensive to anyone with half a brain, yet ESPN apologized, meaning they agreed that something that he said was wrong. Two months later they take the comments off of cable and re-air in them in primetime on network television. What’s more, the comments are being used in a positive way to justify Webb’s inclusion on a reality television show that will prominently feature her in a bikini and make ABC millions. Has anything like this ever happened before? It’s astounding. Disney/ESPN/ABC owes Musburger a full-fledged apology for throwing him under the bus.)
Just before her first dive on the show, Webb said, “Thanks Brent Musburger, this dive is for you.”
Yes, I watched the season debut of “Splash,” last night. Judging by Twitter lots of y’all watched as well. (My favorite non-Webb part of the show? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wears “Skyhook” t-shirts.)
Spoiler alert — and I can’t believe I’m writing this — but the final elimination dive came down to Katherine Webb vs. Rudy from the Cosby Show.
And Katherine Webb, Twitter superstar, eliminated Rudy Huxtable, America’s favorite TV daughter, in a television diving reality show.
Yes, this really happened.
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