Miss Alabama USA becomes an Internet sensation after sportscaster's remarks

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 8, 2013 

UPDATE: Katherine Webb appeared on the Today Show Wednesday morning. Watch the video here.

Miss Alabama USA 2012 Katherine Webb ruled the web on Tuesday.

Many people assumed Webb, who was raised in the Columbus-Phenix City area, would make some national headlines when she watched her boyfriend AJ McCarron play in Monday's BCS National Championship.

McCarron is the starting quarterback for the University of Alabama. Webb graduated from Auburn University.

But that wasn't the big story.

The headline-making moment came about 30 minutes into the game, when ESPN's camera turned to Webb. Sportscaster Brent Musburger offered some comments best summarized as "interesting."

"You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women," said Musburger, whose age is listed as 73 on Wikipedia. "What a beautiful woman."

ESPN on Tuesday afternoon apologized for the comments, which spawned online humor including a "Creepy Musberger" parody Twitter account.

"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 said in a statement that circulated online.

It didn't erase Webb's online popularity.

"Neither football nor girlfriends are the best version of this story. It's the story of how one hometown girl goes from 2,000 Twitter followers to 120,000-plus in 24 hours," said Lucas Shaffer, owner of Columbus-based interactive marketing agency Stand And Stretch.

Early Tuesday evening, Webb still surpassed McCarron in Twitter followers -- nearly 170,000, compared to his nearly 113,000. It seemed like everyone on the social networking site had something to say about her popularity.

Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, tweeted about Webb multiple times on Tuesday. Among his tweets: "We are going to ask Katherine Webb to be a judge at the Miss USA Pageant coming up in Las Vegas."

Football players weighed in on Webb's popularity, too.Take Aaron Murray, the quarterback who recently announced he'll return for his senior year at Georgia. During the BCS title game, he tweeted, "Aj McCarrons girlfriend needs to become a Dawg fan #dawgsontop."

Later, McCarron responded, "U don't win enough bud!! #15."

Then, there was the Twitter drama involving Darnell Dockett of the Arizona Cardinals.

Dockett sent Webb his phone number in a public post that presumably was intended as a private message. He also digitally added a photo of himself to a picture of Webb and McCarron.

Webb, who advanced to the top 10 in the Miss USA 2012 pageant, was a trending topic on Google Tuesday ("AJ McCarron girlfriend") and appeared on the front page of websites like Yahoo and MSN. She also made ESPN's popular sports debate show "Pardon the Interruption" Tuesday afternoon.

The Ledger-Enquirer was unable to reach Webb on Tuesday. While discussing Musburger's comments, she told TMZ, "I laughed hysterically. I was flattered … and slightly embarrassed … but I thought it was the funniest thing ever. I never expected that."

What happens next?

This isn't the first time Musburger has commented on a pretty woman at a college football game.

During a Florida State-Miami game in 2005, he made a comment about Jenn Sterger, who went on to model and was reportedly involved in the Brett Favre "sexting" scandal.

Local social media expert Shaffer thinks Webb's fame will last longer than a day.

"I am expecting the reality show (Fox probably), websites and talk show appearances," he said. In a December interview, Webb told us she lives in Los Angeles.

Will her new Twitter followers hang around once the major buzz subsides?

"I believe these are mostly football fans who are curious. But a lot of the followers are also ladies, fellow Bama and Auburn fans, supporting her. I believe they will stick to her and continue to follow," Shaffer said.

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