Commodore Conversation: Jesse Pullen, aka “Sad Vandy Kid,” becomes latest internet meme


Screenshot via CBS Sports.

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

There wasn’t much to laugh about during Vanderbilt’s 59-0 loss to Alabama on Saturday.

But, one moment during the game brought the internet, and Vanderbilt fans, together: Sad Vandy Kid.

That dejected fan in the empty student section is Jesse Pullen, a Vanderbilt sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and Medicine, Health and Society. It’s been a roller coaster 48 hours for him since the game, and the diehard Vanderbilt fan spoke to the Hustler about what it’s been like to become “Sad Vandy Kid.”

Vanderbilt Hustler: When did you realize that you made it on TV and were going viral?

Jesse Pullen: My phone had died too, so I had no idea for like two hours. I went back to my room and I plugged in my phone and then went to the gym, so I didn’t know at all and someone came up to me while I was working out and they were like “Aren’t you this kid?” And I was like “Where did that photo come from? I’ve never seen that. Why am I on TV?” That was funny. Then I went back and I had texts from like everyone of the picture.

VH: When did you know that this had really gone viral and even became a Twitter Moment?

JP: I saw that because one of my friends ended up sending it to me as a screenshot of their screen, and had me in between Trump and North Korea. That’s when I first realized how viral it went. Just like looking through the Moment and at the individual tweets and stuff.

VH: What led up to that moment in the stands for you?

JP: I think they did a good job of accentuating that, because they really zoomed in on me. I was there with some friends and they left, but I was like, I just wanted to see us at least get a first down, because we weren’t doing so hot. Right then was like in between quarters I think, so I was just chilling out. I guess I wasn’t really paying attention and they caught me. It wasn’t as lonely as it might have looked, though. There were fans around me.

VH: Why did you decide to stay at this game for that long?

JP: I’d say I’m a pretty diehard fan, and so I just wanted to at least, I was just hoping that we could at least get a first down, maybe score once and have it not be a complete shutout, but it didn’t turn out that way.

VH: Would you say you’re a big Commodore fan?

JP: Last year, the only game I missed was Ole Miss because of Thanksgiving. I’ve been to every game so far this year.

VH: How important is it to support the Vanderbilt teams?

JP: I think that was definitely a big thing as to why I also wanted to go here. Vandy’s a great academic institution, but while our school spirit might not be the best at times, having the SEC sports and just knowing that we play against these bigger teams brings us together and such, whether that be playing Kentucky in Basketball or Alabama in football, at least we were there together at one time. That’s important to me, I guess.

VH: What are your thoughts on student crowd for that game?

JP: It hasn’t been that packed in awhile, I think. That was pretty cool.

VH: What do you think of the potential off-campus football stadium?

JP: I haven’t been paying too much attention to that. What I’ve heard, though, is just that it’s going to be a different experience, right? Personally, I’m not the biggest fan, I guess, because it’ll change the whole game day experience, I think, for students. It would probably make it harder for me to get to the game too, so I probably wouldn’t go all the time. I don’t know.