Leidner Island, Minn., has a population of 581. The mayor is Mitch Leidner, Gophers football senior quarterback, and its citizens are fully committed to his movement.
The islanders wear shirts featuring half of a football growing a palm tree on top of the words “Leidner Island.” They represent the group’s unrelenting support for the quarterback.
The island, which can be found in Lot 37 at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturdays and in Twitter’s digital universe, was settled only about a month ago when the Twitter account was established. As of Tuesday, 581 fans follow the account and are making enough noise that Leidner is starting to take notice and showing his appreciation.
“I’ve never even met them before and to see how much they support me [is great],” Leidner said Tuesday. “I think the first thing they said when I saw them was, ‘Dude, I love you.’ I was like all right. That’s pretty cool. It’s fun though and any good publicity like that is good, so.”
Leidner learned about his following from an uncle that spotted the t-shirt around TCF Bank Stadium. Then “the next thing you know they stopped by my parents little tailgate spot,” Leidner said and he was thanking them with photographs and autographs.
“It is a pretty interesting deal that they got going on there,” Leidner said.
The Lakeville product has led the Gophers to a 3-0 start and has thrown for 599 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also has rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns. His total QB rating is 80, ranked 16th in the nation and third in the Big Ten.
Leidner Islanders are creating some hype around the quarterback despite the unsatisfied doubters that include rival Twitter account @LeidnerLifeRaft “get off the island.” After Tuesday’s press conference and shout-out, @LeidnerIsland tweeted “We got you Mitch!!!!!”
The group even tried to sell fake real estate to ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit warning “There’s room now but space is limited.”