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#ExilePitbull is an online petition launched in July 2012 with a mission to send rapper Pitbull to the small town of Kodiak, Alaska, as part of his promotional campaign for the Sheets energy strips in which he pledged to visit and perform at any Walmart store that received the most votes in an online poll. While the petition was initially driven by anti-fan sentiment, similar to the Send Justin Bieber to North Korea petition in 2010, Pitbull accepted the poll results and visited Kodiak on July 30th, along with the Something Awful columnist David Thorpe who co-created the petition.
In mid-June 2012, Walmart and Sheets Brand energy strips launched a promotional campaign to bring the rapper Pitbull to whichever local Walmart store that gains the most new Facebook likes between June 20th and July 15th, 2012.
On June 29th, 2012, Something Awful editors Jon Hendren and David Thorpe announced on Twitter that they wanted to send the rapper to Kodiak, Alaska, an island that is home to 6130 people as of the 2010 United States census.
Pitbull is having a contest where he’ll visit the local Walmart that gets the most FB Likes. @fart and I are sending him to Kodiak, Alaska.
— David Thorpe (@Arr) June 29, 2012
That day, Hendren and Thorpe began incorporating the hashtag #ExilePitbull into their tweets, inviting their followers to like the Facebook page for Walmart Kodiak in Alaska. A screenshot of Thorpe’s tweets was shared on the /r/funny subreddit the same day, earning 2161 points and 16,072 upvotes. In the comments, Redditor TheScoby noted that Walmart Kodiak’s page only had 3700 likes. But as other Redditors joined in and replied to the thread, the likes count of Walmart Kodiak’s Facebook page began soaring up at the rate of 50 new likes per minute. That evening, #ExilePitbull was featured on Gawker and music blog Idolator.
June 30th: Pitbull’s Response
On June 30th, Pitbull used the Twitter hashtag himself, saying that he heard the Kodiak Walmart carries bear repellent. A few days later, Pitbull invited Thorpe to join him in Alaska since he was “so invested” on sending the rapper there.
I hear there’s bear repellant at Kodiak, Alaska
<a href="https://twitter.com/walmartspecials">walmartspecials</a> @<a href="https://twitter.com/sheets">sheets</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%2523exilepitbull">#exilepitbull</a> daleeeeeee!</p>— Pitbull (Pitbull) June 30, 2012
July 2nd: News Media Coverage
After the Walmart Kodiak Facebook page broke through 35,000 likes on July 2nd, the #ExilePitbull campaign hit major news websites including NPR, the Huffington Post and ABC News. Over the next several days, CNN, Mashable and TIME also reported on the hijacked social media campaign.
July 3rd: #KeepPitbull305
Meanwhile, Pitbull fans launched the counter hashtag #KeepPitbull305 on July 3rd to bring the rapper to a Walmart in the area of his hometown, Miami, Florida. A fan chose Walmart 2814 in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, which went onto receive no more than 1,100 likes by the end of the campaign. This small counter-protest was covered by the Miami New Times, PopDust and Idolator.
Ha! Its a movement…daleeeeee!!!!! #KeepPitbull305— Pitbull (@Pitbull) July 3, 2012
July 17th: Poll Results
When the results were announced on July 17th, the Walmart Kodiak page had accrued more than 70,000 likes and won the contest. Pitbull uploaded a video to his official YouTube channel stating that even though this may have been a prank, he “will go anywhere in the world for [his] fans.” The conclusion of the contest and Pitbull’s video were featured the Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Mashable, Reddit and Yahoo! Music.
July 30th: Pitbull Visits Kodiak, Alaska
On July 30th, Pitbull arrived in Kodiak, Alaska, along with Something Awful columnist and Internet prankster David thorpe who co-created the hashtag petition. They visited the Walmart employees as well as local residents and attended a ceremony where the mayor presented a key to the city as a gift.
— David Thorpe (@Arr) July 30, 2012
Thorpe and Pitbull’s tour of Kodiak was updated in real time via Thorpe’s Twitter feed, providing details on the local residents’ reaction and the more personable side of the celebrity rapper. Pitbull also tweeted pictures from his visit and expressed his gratitude to the fans. That same day, Thorpe’s live coverage of his visit on Twitter was picked up by internet news site Daily Dot.
Thank U Kodiak…I am honored, truly.
#PitbullKodiak sheets twitter.com/Pitbull/status…
</s><b>walmart</b></a> <a href="https://twitter.com/sheets"><s>
— Pitbull (@Pitbull) July 30, 2012
According to Google Insights, search interest in the #ExilePitbull hashtag campaign peaked on July 18th, the day after the Walmart in Kodiak, Alaska was chosen as the final destination.
Yahoo! Music – Pitbull heading north to Walmart in Kodiak, Alaska