Sometimes life hands you an opportunity. Say, for example, you're in the stands at the Super Bowl, and you see Kanye West sitting a few rows above you. Your options are either (A) do nothing, or (B), go up to him, introduce yourself, and ask for a picture. Moments like this separate the weak from the strong. Well, Ben Pitasky is many things—25-year-old male human, lifelong Seattle resident, dude who works in finance, Super Bowl XLIX attendee—but he is not weak. So, Ben and his brother went up to Kanye, who was sitting in the stands with his wife Kim Kardashian-West, introduced themselves, and asked for a picture.
A photo posted by Ben Pitasky (@boomp0w) on Feb 1, 2015 at 4:42pm PST
The rest is history. Ben posted the pic to Instagram, and before he knew it, the image was viral. Yesterday, the picture made the rounds on the internet, being posted along with funny photoshops that found Kanye disapprovingly looking at things.
I got in touch with Ben, who was back in Seattle after his weird brush with virality, to get the real story behind the picture, as well as peek into his Kanye fandom.
Noisey: Where are you right now?
Ben: I'm just back in Seattle after the game.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Seattle, I'm 25, I work in finance, and I'm a big Seahawks fan. I went to U-Dub, that's basically it.
Was this your first Super Bowl?
My family and friends actually went to the Super Bowl last year, too. We got tickets right after Seattle won the NFC Championship after this crazy game against Green Bay. We decided to pull the trigger and it was awesome, except for the very last play of the game for us.
Where was the seat?
They were pretty good seats. We were in the 200 level or so, kind of near the box seats, in that same area. It wasn't anything phenomenal, Kanye just happened to be sitting behind us.
Describe your position in relation to Kanye.
He was in the box right above us. If you were walking up the stairs, you'd be right by him.
Did you ever find yourself watching him watch the game?
No, what happened is someone pointed up and said he was behind us, so I was like, "I'm gonna try to snag a quick picture with him."
What happened then?
I was actually with my brother, and we were like "Hey man, can we get a quick picture to put online?" He said "Yeah, just do it quick." I honestly didn't think he was going to make a face or anything. We just snapped it, said thanks, and that was it?
So he knew it was going on.
He definitely knew, and was cool with it happening.
Did he smile at any point during the interaction?
I don't think so. We basically leaned in, said thanks, said hi to Kim, and that was it.
Part of what makes the picture so funny is you guys look so amped, and he looks like he's staring into a black hole.
What was funny to me was in the moment, it seemed like we weren't doing anything he didn't like, and so to look at that face he made… It was clear that he was there to watch the game and not be interrupted by people like us. But it was so nice of him to let us take the picture. I walked down to my seat and posted it to Instagram, and that was it.
Did it blow up immediately?
Totally immediately. I started getting calls and texts, people sending screenshots, basically from everyone I knew. Pretty much every Seahawks fans I've talked to said it was one of the only funny things to come out of the game.
How does it feel to have created a piece of viral content?
Kind of a bizarre feeling, honestly. It's crazy how quickly it happened and then got picked up. I didn't post it with any hashtags, didn't tag anybody.
Image via BuzzFeed
What do you think it says about the news cycle that this fairly innocuous selfie has become this huge news item?
I think it shows how quickly things can happen. I think a lot of people were commenting and saying he's an asshole, but the reality of the picture is he was pretty nice to let us take the picture, and we were stoked to meet him. So it shows how things can get blown out of proportion and taken out of context.
Are you going to measure things in your life from before you met Kanye and after you met Kanye?
He's definitely my favorite rapper, so it was just awesome to meet him. It's definitely a story I'll have for a really long time. It's one of those things where I didn't realize how crazy it would get.
What are your top five Kanye songs?
Oof. I have to say Number One would be "All Falls Down," then "Family Business," then "Jesus Walks…" and… I gotta look this up, I feel like the this is the most important part of the interview. I'll round out the list with "Devil in a New Dress" from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and, oh, gosh, I think I'll say "Good Morning" from Graduation.
What's your favorite Kanye album?
Definitely, definitely, definitely Graduation. It's kind of a toss-up between that and College Drop-Out.
I think people will respect you for saying Graduation.
I'll stick with it. To be honest, he's my favorite rapper ever. I pretty much love every album.
Do you have anything else you want to say?
I'd love to get Kanye back to Seattle, doing more shows! If he does, I'll definitely be there.
Special thanks to Jake Bowman for the idea to interview Ben.
Follow Drew Millard on Twitter.