HUNTSVILLE, ALA. (WHNT) – A very special guest unexpectedly showed up at the WHNT News 19 studios Friday morning. Quickly what started out as a relatively quiet morning turned into a thunder of “WOOOOO’s” echoing throughout the building.
Seriously! No joke! Professional wrestling champion and celebrity Ric Flair was strutting through the WHNT halls decked out in a floor-length robe adorned with bright blue feathers and sequins spelling out “Nature Boy” on the back.
Why was the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) 16-time World Champion at our station? He was here for a commercial shoot for 1st Family Mortgage at the request of Branch Manager Conrad Thompson.
WHNT Local Sales Manager, Nathan McGee, said he had no idea Flair would be showing up. “Conrad told us we would just be doing something a little different today,” stated McGee.
And, wow, was it different.
The 65-year-old still projected the same high energy he did years ago in the wrestling ring and had station personnel doubled over in laughter as he adlibbed his lines for the commercial. To be sure, Flair found creative ways to integrate many of his iconic phrases like ‘limousine-ridin,’ ‘jet-flyin,’ and ‘to be the man, you gotta beat the man’ into the script for the 1st Family Mortgage commercial.
WHNT News 19 Interactive Content Manager, Claire Aiello, is one of Flair’s biggest fans. She has a photo of him posted above her desk. The vanity license plate on her vehicle says “Flair” and her nickname is “Claire Flair” – a name given to her by a sports guy she used to work with. Unfortunately, Claire was out of the building on assignment when Flair showed up.
As soon as her co-workers in the newsroom found out that her favorite celebrity was in the building, they started blowing up her phone with texts and emails. A colleague took over for Claire so that she could race back to the station to meet Flair.
“I had no idea this was happening,” she said. “But, dang, it made my day. He is just like you see on TV. Larger than life — stylin’ and profilin just like you’d expect. Funny, fired up and quite the flirt. The WOOOO is just a loud as it sounds, too. I loved meeting him!”
You’ll start seeing the commercial featuring Flair starting Monday, Memorial Day, on WHNT.