This Speedrunner’s Name Is 'Tomatoanus.' Why? Good Question.

Nobody should let teenagers pick online usernames.
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Image courtesy of Zenimax Media

Last week, a headline scrolled past my screen on Twitter from Polygon: “Change your name, speedrun organizers tell tomatoanus.” Tomatoanus. Tomato…anus. The story, documenting how this Fallout speedrunner was instead adopting the name “TomatoAngus” for the upcoming Awesome Games Done Quick event next January, takes this at face value. At no point does the reporter stop, raise their hand and go “Hello, tomato anus?” As a society, we have apparently been so numbed by the proliferation of competitive players using their weird online handles, names that were clearly chosen by teenagers who didn’t realize it would follow them for so many years later, that even something like TOMATOANUS fails to register.

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After sharing the Polygon story with a few friends, it became clear that I had to know more. So I looked up the email for Mr. Tomatoanus, who gained some notoriety last year when he nabbed the crown for having sex in every Fallout game as fast as possible, and passed on a simple question: Buddy, why?

“I wish that there were a good backstory to the name tomatoanus, but really there isn't,” he told me.

But tomatoanus, who would not reveal their real name but did say people call him “Tommy Aynie” as a jokey pseudonym, confirmed my pet theory: this happened because of decisions made as a teenager. In 2013, he was a 17-year-old on a group chat with friends, and soon realized it was possible to change your name to…well, anything you wanted.

“We were just thinking of a lot of weird, off-putting names and I just thought the word 'anus' was a funny, underused word at the time that paired well with 'tomato,'” he said. “I started using the username then and have used ever since for everything except for Reddit, because someone somehow came up with the username a year before I did on that site.”

The name tomatoanus has managed to stick ever since, even as he’s become a prolific speedrunner. He is, of course, aware people raise their eyebrows about the name, and one of his running gags whenever someone asks for the “story” behind it is to make one up.

“I tell a random story off the top of my head,” he said, “about how the name came to be, ranging from dressing up as a tomato one year for Halloween and the costume had a big crease in it, to gardening with my mom and landing perfectly on top of a tomato when I fell backwards. I'll tell stories like these back-to-back sometimes because people will 'miss' the first story and ask me to tell it again since they weren't there, so I just come up with a new story right after.”

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Mmhmm, yes. Brilliant.

Weirdly enough, to the surprise of both this reporter and tomatoanus himself, Awesome Games Done Quick asking to alter his name is the first time a problem has really come up.

“I feel like there should have been occasions in the past where my name should have impeded upon opportunities, but surprisingly this is the only time it's happened,” he said.

He didn’t have a problem with the request, either. It made sense.

In fact, rather than causing headaches, some companies who’ve done sponsorships with him have embraced the weirdness, attaching promo codes like “ANUS” to their marketing.

“Not the reaction I was expecting when working with some companies,” he said.

Still, maybe he’s just been lucky so far. The higher the profile, the more popular tomatoanus becomes, the more likely someone is going to get gun shy and decide it’s too much.

“In the past I've considered changing it, but never to the point where I've came close to actually doing it,” he said. “I only ever played around with the idea a little bit.”

Because it’s the Internet, he’s hardly the only person who’s had an opinion on the subject.

“There are certain dissenters on the internet who repeatedly tell me I need to change my name or I won't be taken seriously online,” he continued. “Honestly though, I don't really care to be taken seriously online; I've never been one to take myself seriously. At the end of the day we're all just a bunch of people sitting around watching people play through games really fast, and if I felt like I had to take myself seriously to do that, it's not something I'd want to do.”

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you know something cool that's happening in speedrunning drop an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com. He's also available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).