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Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt has become one of the most recognizable faces in football. And after an injury left him sidelined for the remainder of the season, the NFL player decided to communicate with some of his fans via the most unexpected medium possible: text messages.
On Twitter Tuesday night, Watt posted a video sharing his phone numbers with fans—giving them an outlet to connect with him directly.
“Text me,” the video’s caption reads. “262.404.3664.”
Text me.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) November 20, 2019
In the video, Watt says the idea came to fruition after a conversation with a friend about connecting more directly with fans.
“He said, ‘yeah, so you give ‘em a number and they can text directly to you and you can try and respond,” Watt says in the video. “I thought it was interesting, so I figured I’m going to try it.”
“I’ve never done it before. I have no experience with this, so you’re going to have to bear with me,” he later adds. “I’m not sure if it’s going to be awesome. I’m not sure if I’m not going to be able to get to anybody.”
When fans text the number Watt posted, they receive an auto-reply with a link that asks them to register their number, according to ABC 13. After entering their name, number, city, and email address, they receive another auto-reply.
“Perfect you’re all set up, thanks. From here out if you get a text it will be straight from me. Can’t promise on the consistency, but I’m gonna do my best with my schedule,” the message—seemingly from Watt—reads.
The reply also reportedly includes an address book entry for Watt and a photo.
Hours after posting the number to social media, Watt said he’d received more than 25,000 messages.
Responded to a couple hundred texts already, but the inbox is currently sitting at 25,000+ 😂😂😂— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) November 20, 2019
I’m gonna continue to try it out to see how it goes and see if you guys like it as a more direct way to interact.
One thing I can say is I truly appreciate all the kind words. 🙏🏼
He also shared a text exchange with a fan who told him that his professor promised to give his entire class perfect scores on their finals if Watt responded to the message.
And Watt delivered.
“Ethan, idk if you’re pulling my leg or if the professor is pulling your leg. But you make sure you get that 100% on your final!” Watt replied to the fan’s message, along with a few laughing emojis.
This kid better get 100% on that final. 😂 pic.twitter.com/4b2c88iztx— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) November 20, 2019
Alexandra Samuels is a political reporter at the Texas Tribune and contributor to the Daily Dot, where she started as an intern covering politics in the summer of 2016. She enjoys Marvel movies, baking, and reading murder-mystery novels.