AJ McCarron played the game of his life to help Alabama crush Notre Dame 42-14 to win its second straight national championship and third in four years, but somehow it was his girlfriend, Katherine Webb, who stole the show on Monday night.
The Internet was first introduced to Webb around Christmas when she tweeted a photo of herself and McCarron together for the holiday. The photo sparked speculation that the two were dating. McCarron later confirmed to the media that Webb was his girlfriend, and it wasn’t long before we found out a few details about the young lady.
Webb graduated from rival school Auburn in 2011. She was crowned Miss Alabama USA a year later.
Webb headed to Miami to support her boyfriend during the BCS National Championship Game, but she had no clue what awaited her on Monday night.
With just over four minutes left in the first quarter and Alabama up 14-0, ESPN flashed to a shot of Webb in the stands along with McCarron’s mother, Dee Dee Bonner. All it took was 30 seconds on camera for Webb’s life to permanently change.
ESPN announcers Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit began drooling over the beauty queen:
ESPN later apologized for Musburger going “too far” with his comments about Webb.
“We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that,” ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys wrote on Twitter.
Webb found the praise to be complimentary.
“It was kind of nice,” Webb told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I didn’t look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don’t see how that’s an issue.”
The shot of Webb sent thousands of people scrambling to the Internet to find out more about her. Athletes and regular fans began tweeting at her, her number of Twitter followers started to explode, and ESPN realized it had a golden commodity on its hands. The network began flashing to Webb more regularly during the game realizing it was a way to keep viewers interested during a blowout. That only fueled the interest in Webb, whose popularity soared.
Prior to the game, Webb had an estimated 2,200 Twitter followers. She added over 10,000 followers after the first time she was shown in the stands, and she was up to well over 100,000 followers after the game. The tweets at her were coming from all angles.
Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett tried hitting on her. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray tried to get her to switch allegiances. Webb even got a Twitter follow from LeBron James, who later unfollowed her.
Upon being informed after the game that King James had followed his girlfriend on Twitter, McCarron had a funny response.
McCarron was pretty incredulous to find out that his girlfriend, in a matter of hours, had surpassed him in Twitter followers (he had over 87,000 at the time of this publishing). Yes, his girlfriend surpassed him in Twitter followers even though he threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Things usually don’t work out that way.
The good news is McCarron says he’s not jealous of the celebrity status Webb received during the game.
“I’m not the jealous type. I know she’s good looking. … I’m the one who’s blessed,” he said per SI.com’s Andy Staples.
Webb added well over 100,000 Twitter followers in a few hours, and she became one of the hottest search topics on the Internet. Check out this visual representation of how search traffic for her exploded on Monday (via Darren Rovell):
The funny thing is while Webb was blowing up on the Internet, she had no idea how famous she was becoming; she told reporter Chris Pollone after the game that her phone died. He says she was stunned to learn about her newfound fame.
After the game was over, matters ended just about the best way possible — Webb and McCarron shared a celebratory kiss: