The Crichton Leprechaun (known alternatively as the Mobile Leprechaun or Alabama Leprechaun) is an urban legend and internet meme involving a purported leprechaun seen in a tree in Crichton, a neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama. The Crichton Leprechaun rose to international fame in March 2006 following a news report filed at local NBC affiliate WPMI-TV. The video was posted to YouTube on St. Patrick's Day 2006 and fueled media attention to the story and the city. The clip became one of the first YouTube viral videos and was referenced in mainstream media. Merchandise relating to the video and an alleged sketch of the creature also rose in popularity.
As of 2014, the video has over 23 million views.
The video was shot in the Mobile neighborhood of Crichton, located near Toulminville. The community is divided by Spring Hill Avenue into North Crichton and South Crichton, bounded generally by Mobile Street, Dauphin Street and Interstate 65. The leprechaun was purported to be seen in a tree on Le Cren Street near Bay Shore Avenue.
On March 14, 2006, local NBC affiliate WPMI-TV was alerted to crowds gathering in Crichton, and dispatched reporter Brian Johnson to investigate. Jonhson had previously received numerous calls about possible leprechaun sightings and questions about it from friends at a barbershop and his church. "Things sort of snowballed" when the crew arrived, anchor Scott Walker later recalled, with multiple people claiming to have seen a leprechaun in a tree. Crichton resident Nina Thomas-Brown submitted a crudely drawn sketch of the supposed leprechaun. Among those who were interviewed including a woman who opined that instead of a leprechaun, "It could be a crackhead." Another interviewee, Demarco Morrissette, claimed Irish ancestry and showed off a "special leprechaun flute," that he claimed dated thousands of years old. Morrissette became known as the "Flute Man" due to his appearance in the report. "I actually saw what was sketched on paper," said Johnson at the time. "Some people say it is a shadow from some of the branches being too close and that there is moss on the tree that could explain it. Certainly I don't believe it's a leprechaun!"
The piece was aired twice, once on the nightly newscast and again on WPMI's morning newscast. That version, introduced by Scott Walker and a female news anchor, was the broadcast that went viral.
The video was posted to YouTube on March 17, 2006 by user botmib and soon became a viral sensation, attracting millions of views. The video was one of the site's first to attract viral attention, further propelling the site into public consciousness.
The report received attention from MSNBC, radio personality Howard Stern and received a piece in The New York Times, in which columnist Virginia Heffernan called the clip "a local Alabama news segment that seems too hilarious to be real." Reporter Brian Johnson was interviewed by radio stations in Dallas and Los Angeles following the report. Political commentator Bill O'Reilly of Fox News's The O’Reilly Factor debated the video’s intentions, claiming that the piece purported racial stereotypes. The video was also lampooned on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Key and Peele, and South Park. Tosh.0 featured the clip in a "Web Investigation" segment, with host Daniel Tosh visiting Crichton and interviewing those involved with the video. Tosh referred to the clip as "the Gone with the Wind of Internet videos. It's old. It's famous. And it makes the South look terrible." Many quotes and elements of the video, most notably the alleged leprechaun sketch, were printed on T-shirts, mousepads and other merchandise. WPMI-TV later auctioned off the leprechaun sketch for $1,100 on eBay, with the proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
The clip continues to receive media attention annually on St. Patrick’s Day. Walker now works for WDSU-TV in New Orleans and has written on his website about the report: "It’s fun to be part of something that’s talked about so much for so long, although some of my co-workers are probably really tired of it. But I never get tired of hearing about it."
July 10, 2014: And now we know the rest of the story. Dan McDowell of the "Bob and Dan Show" (BaDD Radio) on Dallas, Texas radio station KTCK, The Ticket, provided a very thorough and entertaining recounting of his recent visit to the Chrichton neighborhood while vacationing in Florida. Dan told the story on July 10, 2014 on his BaDD Radio show. He and T.C. Fleming (also of KTCK radio) drove to the site and happened to come across a local resident who remembered the 2006 story. She told Dan and T.C. that the leprechaun was in fact another local resident named "Midget" Shawn. Dan and T.C. followed the woman's directions to a Texaco station where "Midget" Shawn usually hangs out. After encountering several other residents, who all knew the story and "Midget" Shawn, Dan and T.C. finally met "Midget" Shawn at a nearby hospital parking lot. Shawn described the origin of the story/prank and how he dressed in green and climbed high up in a tree. Go to the "Unticket" show archive page (http://www.theunticket.com/usave-it/) to hear the story.
- "Viral Video Breakdown". views4video.com. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Mobile leprechaun story revisited by TV anchor (St. Patrick's Day Fodder)". Press-Register. March 17, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Mike Brantley (April 11, 2006). "Crichton leprechaun sketch fetches $1,100 bid on eBay". Press-Register.
- Debbie M. Lord (March 17, 2014). "St. Patrick's Day brings fond memories of Crichton's leprechaun". Press-Register. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- AL.com and Press-Register staff (July 27, 2011). "Mobile leprechaun reaches mythical status as the 'Gone with the Wind' of Web videos". Press-Register. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- Scott Walker (February 28, 2011). "The Mobile Leprechaun: Background". ScottWalker.TV. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Heffernan, Virginia (2006-04-05). "Comic shorts, home on the Web; The young stars of a new medium". International Herald Tribune. "Finally, a funny video that deserves more views on YouTube is Leprechaun in Mobile, a local Alabama news segment that seems too hilarious to be real."
- Virginia Heffernan (April 3, 2006). "Now Playing on YouTube: Web Videos by Everyone". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Brantley, Mike (July 30, 2009). "TV's Bill O'Reilly asks: Is Crichton Leprechaun news story racist?". Retrieved April 7, 2014.