How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a 50 Hour ‘Donkey Kong 64’ Twitch Stream Restored My Faith in Humanity

Ocasio-Cortez crashed a Twitch stream raising money for a charity that focuses on helping transgender children.

Jan 22 2019, 5:10pm

It was a bad weekend on the internet. Endless debate over an altercation at the Lincoln Memorial dominated the weekend, but there was one bright spot burning through the garbage—an epic marathon Twitch stream of Donkey Kong 64.

YouTuber HBomberGuy, real name Harry Brewis, began a 101 percent completion run of Donkey Kong 64 early Saturday and didn’t stop for 57 hours. Sitting congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning, and Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein creator John Romero all logged onto Discord to chat with Brewis as he played. Brewis started the event to raise money for Mermaids UK—a British charity that focuses on helping transgender children, young people, and their families.

In the end, he raised more than $333,000. It was a joyous thing to watch.

Brewis, a YouTuber known for both lengthy pop culture essays and debunking alt-right conspiracy theories, started the Donkey Kong 64 Twitch stream out of spite. Donkey Kong 64 is a notoriously difficult game to play to completion, requiring a dedicated gamer to slog through hours of minigames and collect hundreds of coins, golden bananas, and obscure collectibles. Brewis has long threatened he would stream the game to completion and finish something he’d left undone as a child.

He finally decided to do the damn thing after Graham Linehan, an Irish writer behind Father Ted and The IT Crowd, started a campaign online to stop UK National Lottery funding to the Mermaids UK charity. Brewis wanted the Twitch donations to replace any funding Mermaids might lose should Lineham’s campaign succeed. Throughout the weekend, Lineham spent his time on Twitter deriding Brewis and his efforts. But, in the end, the stream raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. “My furthest out estimate was $5,000,” Brewis said on the Twitch stream as the total passed $200,000. “That, to me, was maddeningly high.”

Brewis stopped to eat food and occasionally sleep, but the stream stayed up and people popped in and out to discuss trans rights and marvel at the horror of trying to 101 percent Donkey Kong 64. Ocasio-Cortez joined the stream for about 12 minutes. She discussed trans rights, the government shutdown, and her favorite game console. She told Brewis he was doing a great thing and explained that trans rights were human rights and we all had to fight for them.

“This is fascinating and I’d like to keep talking about trans rights, but I need to know, do you know how to turn on the power in frantic factory in Donkey Kong 64? Because I’ve been here for hours,” Brewis said.

Ocasio-Cortez didn’t, but other people on the stream helped Brewis out by pulling up some wikis. “I never owned an N64, though I do think it’s probably the best system,” Ocasio-Cortez said “But I used to go to my cousin’s house all the time and she had Super Mario 64, Pokemon Snap, and that’s probably all I know how to play.”

Late Sunday night, Brewis hit 101 percent and raised more than $333,000 for Mermaids UK. At its height, the stream had more than 50,000 concurrent viewers.

“I can feel all of the blood in my face,” Brewis said as he bit into a hunk of tofu he’d saved to eat when he achieved victory.