When Adrian Lester woke up on Monday morning, he’d gone viral because of a joke. On Sunday night, Lester decided to illegally stream a UFC pay-per-view on his Twitch account. These streams are common on Twitch and YouTube, but they’re taken down in short order. Lester managed to stream for hours because he pretended to be playing the new UFC game from Electronic Arts. More than 5,000 people were watching.
“I really didn’t think I would last the whole stream,” said Lester over email, “and didn’t think that a clip of me would go viral.”
He was wrong.
The most popular tweet, which has since had the video disabled for copyright reasons, was retweeted more than 77,000 times. It was favorited more than 175,000 times.
(For now, you can watch a full clip on YouTube. It'll probably disappear soon.)
Lester's stream looked normal to anyone who was casually watching Twitch. The "game" was in the center, and the streamer was in the corner. Lester was holding a controller, pressing buttons, and reacting to what happened in the match as if those were the actions in the game itself. Given how realistic these games look, it's not wild to believe it'd fool people (or an algorithm meant to detect copyrighted material).
There aren’t usually many people watching Lester’s streams, where he mostly plays games. Like many people, he decided to start streaming after watching others do it.
The idea of turning an illegal UFC stream into a pseudo-art project “just came to me.”
“I was sitting at my desk,” he said, “and I saw my controller. Since I was on Twitch [I] was like why not act like I’m playing the UFC beta to be funny and one thing lead to another I wake up to all this.”
Over the weekend, EA conducted a beta for UFC 3, their latest take on the sport.
Though the 5,000 Twitch viewers was eye-popping, Lester figured it was a one time thing. He's go back to streaming to a couple of people the next day. Back to anonymity.
“I didn’t realize til like the next morning [that it blew up],” he said.
He didn’t realize what was happening, and why so many people were following him on Twitch and Twitter, until someone sent him a copy of the video that had gone around.
Lester’s account has been suspended for 24 hours, and despite all the “crazy” attention sent his way, said he doesn’t expect to be streaming UFC pay-per-views again.
“I’m good on not doing it again,” he said.
Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.