By Josh Hyber/Photo by Allen Sharpe
COLUMBIA, MO. — Kirk Hollingsworth has more Twitter followers than Rico Dowdle. More than T.J. Brunson and more than Keir Thomas.
The South Carolina sports superfan has more followers (5,489 as of Saturday morning) than Gamecock football players D.J. Wonnum, Steven Montac and Jacob August … combined.
The handle, @theUSC, has gained 100 followers this week alone, with Hollingsworth gaining national attention with his quest to attend his 296th consecutive Gamecock football game.
“All of my work bosses through the years knew when I was taking my vacations by looking at the Carolina football schedule,” Hollingsworth said. “The day before and after the away games were my vacation days.”
But for Hollingsworth — who got off a bus of South Carolina administrators here at 4:18 p.m. CT — the streak was in serious jeopardy until just a few days ago. Hollingsworth had booked a bus trip to the Midwest, but it was canceled, and a few other efforts couldn’t come together.
That’s when he took to Twitter, and Gamecock Nation came to help, something that soon caught the eye of the SC athletic department.
Tweeted Chris Carey: No!!!! It can’t end!! Gamecock fans need to come together for the #1 fan!!!! #getKirktoMizzou.
“Nah we getting you to 300,” tweeted @bbingham0320.
Even a Missouri alum reached out.
Almost 13 hours later came news everyone wanted to here.
“I WILL B GOING!” Hollingsworth tweeted.
One hundred and sixty-seven people retweeted it. Nine hundred and seventy-eight people liked it. Sixty people responded.
No way would Hollingsworth, who has cerebral palsy and travels in a motorized scooter, be stopped from cheering on his team.
Hollingsworth’s dad began attending SC football games in the early 70s and began taking Kirk to home games, periodically, in the late 70s. He doesn’t recall the first game specifically, but he’s been to all of them since the 1982 season. He went to periodic road games from ’81 to ’92.
His current streak began in 1992, when he started going to all the road games.
“I even traveled to see the win in South Bend vs. Notre Dame,” he said.
Hollingsworth’s travels by car started with his parents in 1992. Then, in 1997, he met a group called “The Ultimate Tailgaters” and began traveling with them when his parents couldn’t. When he couldn’t travel with The Ultimate Tailgaters, he traveled with friends by bus.
Hollingsworth’s Twitter page oozes garnet and black. The handle: @theUSC. The bio: Biggest Gamecock Fan that you will ever find. Spreading the good word on Carolina!! #GoCocks
“I’ve been very blessed in every way,” Hollingsworth said. “I want to thank my family, friends and of course all my bosses for keeping my consecutive streak alive.”