Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy, workout, lose weight, or break a bad habit. Senior Jake Sievers had a different goal: become the Bloomin’ Onion at the 2020 Outback Bowl.
Now, after a solid year of tweeting at Outback Steakhouse, Sievers has clinched the role and will be on the sidelines at the game.
The idea was born on January 1, 2019 when Sievers was watching his favorite hand-carved, golden, ready-to-dip appetizer jumping and dancing on the sidelines of a major college football game.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Sievers said. “The Iowa Hawkeyes were taking on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in an exciting Outback Bowl, as they always are. I looked up from my phone and my eyes were graced with the most glorious mascot in all of sports: the Bloomin’ Onion. It was love at first sight. I immediately turned to my mom and said, ‘Mom, I want to be that guy.’”
The excitement. The joy. The exhilaration. The sensation. Sievers was captured by the onion’s radiant petals and he was not going to stop working, striving, and fighting until he achieved the ultimate status of the Bloomin’ Onion.
Sievers knew what he had to do. Pulling out his smartphone and opening his Twitter feed, he began to draft the first of what would become hundreds of messages to Outback Steakhouse.
“My first tweet to Outback was very simple: ‘My only goal for this year is to be dressed up as the Bloomin’ Onion on the sideline at the next Outback Bowl. @Outback how can we make this happen?’ When I started to take it seriously after a couple of weeks, I would take more time crafting the spiciest memes the internet has ever seen.”
Sievers understood that while 80% of all New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month, he was not going to give in and sacrifice his ultimate dream for a higher test score or an extra hour of sleep. He knew being crowned the Bloomin’ Onion would require hard work, dedication, and daily sacrifice.
“Hypothetically, if I was up late on a Saturday night studying or doing something that a good Hillsdalian would do, I would forego making a meme and just keep the message simple, letting Outback know that I love them and that I was waiting,” Sievers said. “Other nights, when I was purposely avoiding my responsibilities, I would bust out Photoshop and make something extremely extravagant. You could probably tell how productive I was the previous night based on the intricacy of my tweet at Outback.”
Sievers’s hard work quickly received national attention and Outback Steakhouse personally responded offering him the chance to make his dream a reality.
“Outback DMd me on Twitter in July and said that they wanted to talk to me,” Sievers said. “I’m guessing that was just a part of the vetting process and to make sure that I wasn’t going to be a bad representation of the Outback brand. They left everything pretty open-ended until September, when they announced that if I made a video that got 10,000 retweets I could be the mascot.”
Sievers began the retweet challenge by making a video that explained his year-long quest. The video received over 270,000 views and multiple celebrity retweets, including one from Fox News personality and 2010 Hillsdale graduate Kat Timpf.
At 7,239 retweets Outback Steakhouse chose to end the challenge and crown Sievers as the 2020 Bloomin’ Onion.
“Even though I didn’t get 10,000 retweets, they reached the correct conclusion that my passion is enough to overcome whatever amount of engagement they were hoping to get from my campaign.”
Since being crowned the Bloomin’ Onion, Sievers has been featured on local news stations and radio shows.
“That was the first time I had ever been on live television which was really cool,” Sievers said. “I got to see the newsroom and the green screen and I met the legendary West Michigan meteorologist Bill Steffen. I thought it was funny how seriously everyone in the newsroom treated my story because it started off completely as a joke.”
Be sure to tune-in this New Year’s to watch Hillsdale’s Jake Sievers shake those petals at the 2020 Outback Bowl.