Of all the players in the NFL, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe might be the only one who could show up to a ticket giveaway and wind up autographing copies of a Madden football video game and the on-line role playing game World of Warcraft.
That was the scene Wednesday night as Kluwe, the Vikings and Mall of America teamed for the latest installment of a social media-driven giveaway of Vikings tickets. It was Kluwe's third ticket giveaway appearance at Mall of America this season; one more, the week of the New Orleans game, is planned. The gist: Kluwe sends out clues on Twitter as to where he will be giving out tickets to an upcoming game -- Sunday's game against Oakland in this case. And Kluwe's horde of eclectic fans come out to score free tickets and interact with him.
Known as @ChrisWarcraft on Twitter -- a reference to "World of Warcraft," which is among the role-playing games he plays -- Kluwe has more than 31,000 followers. One of his tweeted clues this go-round was: "I will be giving away tickets at the location where Han shot first" -- a reference to Cantina #1 on the mall's fourth floor, and a message that requires some inside knowledge of "Star Wars."
Upon arrival, the line was far more than 100 people deep. With 100 pairs of tickets to give away -- all purchased by the Mall of America -- keeping everybody happy would be a task.
"I asked them if I could just 'make it rain' over the railing here," Kluwe said jokingly, referring to an expression made famous to many by Adam "Pacman" Jones.
But Kluwe -- wearing a jersey, sweatpants, flip-flops and a constant smile -- seamlessly handled virtually every request. As fans made their way though the line, one told him, "Keep it inside the 20." Plenty, including "Santa" Rob Mathewson (dressed from the waist up like the jolly holiday figure), posed for pictures. Others asked him about his favorite video games. Yet another handed Kluwe a Blu-ray of the sci-fi TV show "Dr. Who" for him to watch.
"I've never watched it before, but a lot of geeks like it," Kluwe said, including himself in that latter category. "I'll definitely give it a shot."
Someone gave him a gift in a plain brown paper bag, writing on it #whatsinthebag. Sean Peterson, who brought the World of Warcraft game for Kluwe to sign, considers himself a fan of the Vikings, online gaming and Twitter. Kluwe, then, is pretty much his hero.
"I figured he had to sign this if I brought it," Peterson said of the game.
At previous giveaways, Kluwe signed jerseys bearing his current number (4) with "Warcraft" hand-stitched or written over "Favre." Matt Carey, wearing an official Kluwe jersey, explained the phenomenon of the Vikings punter: "I tend to like the lesser-heralded players like offensive linemen, punters and kickers. And I follow [Kluwe] on Twitter. He's funny and interesting."