New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady fumbles the ball as he is hit by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium

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Why would a Patriots fan shell out $500 to to erect a billboard featuring a photo of his team’s star player being humiliated?

Apparently, despite how the whole underdog thing turned out during Super Bowl 52, the Pats fan was still ready to underestimate the passion and power of Eagles Nation.

But he learned his lesson big time, thanks to Gina Lewis.


On Saturday, Lewis, whose Twitter bio includes the descriptor “self-proclaimed biggest Eagles fan alive,” posted a challenge to her fellow Birds followers:

If she could get 4,100 likes and 3,300 retweets — numbers that reflect SB52’s final score — on a pic of Brandon Graham strip-sacking Tom Brady, she tweeted, her coworker had promised he’d pay for it to be enlarged and placed somewhere prominent, for all New Englanders to see.

It took all of three hours for the tweet to blow past those metrics and win Lewis the bet.

Not that she was ever worried. “Part of me is now thinking that it was unfair,” Lewis told Billy Penn, “because he’s not on Twitter.”

The wager came about in the first place because Lewis was trying to describe to her colleague how Twitter works after she won tickets to Jalen Mills’ charity softball game via a retweet contest.

“I was telling him he should join, that athletes use it,” Lewis explained. They ended up having a long conversation about how randos tag pro players and say things like “How many retweets do I need to get an autograph?”

“Does that really work?” Mr. Non-Twitter-Having Patriots Fan wanted to know. “No idea,” Lewis answered.

“Let’s find out,” he replied, setting up the challenge. “Do a tweet with anything you want about the Eagles on a billboard in New England, and if it works, I’ll pay for it.”

“Anything?” Lewis showed him photo she had in mind, of the pivotal strip sack fumble that Brady has admitted haunts his dreams. Go for it, the coworker responded, still very sure of himself.

But his swagger quickly vanished.

The retweeting started off slow. Lewis had around 1,500 followers when she started the contest (she’s now up to 2,300). After all, she only joined Twitter herself a few months ago. But Lewis has plenty of experience connecting with Eagles fans over social media, since she co-runs the second largest Eagles Facebook group out there, which has 36k members.

Sure enough, her savvy — combined with the potential for serious schadenfreude — created an unstoppable force.

“I tagged a few people who have a lot of followers, like EROCK and 4th and Jawn,” Lewis recounted, “and after the first hour — after Ike Reese retweeted it! — it started going like crazy.”

It wasn’t just Eagles Nation piling on, Lewis said. “We had a ton of other fanbases contribute. Bills Mafia, Kansas City chimed in. People just hate the Patriots!”

As of this writing, the post has more than twice the needed number of retweets and more than three times the number of likes Lewis needed to win her bet. “Now,” she guessed, “Eagles fans are just doing it to prove a point.”

Despite all the attention, Lewis’s coworker isn’t begging out of the deal.

He’ll still put up the money — “I really think he’ll follow through,” she said — even though he told her he’s worried he’ll need a security detail if anyone finds out his name.

To move forward, Lewis has two main questions to answer. First is whether she can get permission from photographer Kevin Jairaj to use the photo.

Second is where to put the billboard. Lewis is debating whether to use the funds to put up the image for a shorter time on a very busy road near Gillette Stadium, or to pay for a longer engagement closer to her hometown in Western Massachusetts.

Wait, her hometown? Yep. For an extra bit of sweetner, sprinkle this in: the woman who likely will humiliate Brady and the Pats with a giant billboard of their Super Bowl loss isn’t even from Philly. Has never lived here, not even for a year.

“I became an Eagles fan in 2002 on accident,” Lewis explained.

She had a newborn who never slept, and he fell asleep on her one day in front of the TV. Football came on, and even though she wasn’t big into the NFL at the time, Lewis stayed put because she didn’t want to wake the baby. It was an Eagles game — and she’s been a fan ever since.

“My son’s name is Donovan!” she said. “It was meant to be. And it’s been a long time coming for me here in New England.”

Per Lewis, there are actually a good number of Eagles fans in her area. Once the billboard is up, she’s hoping to coordinate with them and set up a group photo in front of it. If it survives long enough, that is.

“If anyone thinks this is going to stay up more than a few hours, they’re crazy,” Lewis said, laughing. “But because of the internet, it won’t matter. Everyone will see it anyway.”

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Danya Henninger

Danya Henninger is director of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the...