Ellen DeGeneres challenged hundreds of Longhorns to get in formation on Tuesday afternoon for a chance to win tickets to this year’s Grammys. All they had to do was show off their best Beyonce impersonations.
The buzz about DeGeneres’ possible appearance on campus started on Monday, when the talk show host tweeted that she had a surprise in store for the Forty Acres. The following morning, UT students gathered on the Main Mall dressed in an assortment of the pop singer’s most iconic looks upon DeGeneres’ instruction. As The Ellen DeGeneres Show‘s cameras panned around the front of the Tower, young men and women took over campus while dressed in leotards, yellow dresses, flower crowns, and fake bellies—a nod to Beyonce’s recent pregnancy-revealing photo shoot.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 7, 2017
According to the Daily Texan, UT Director of Media Relations J.B. Bird said that DeGeneres producers had reached out, and thought it would be fun to stop by campus since the crew was already in Texas for the Super Bowl. The contest aired on Tuesday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, streaming live at 5:30 p.m. DeGeneres challenged the UT audience over video chat to recreate a photo from Beyonce’s pregnancy shoot and submit it via email by the end of the show.
Though there were five finalists (who won one-year subscriptions to Hulu and $500 gift cards to Best Buy), DeGeneres ultimately chose to give the win to human development and family sciences sophomore Collin Wang. After running around town to get the perfect look, Wang made it just in time to the contest. Dressed in a flowing orange dress, he took his photo while immersed in the waters of the Littlefield Fountain.
“It took about 15 or 20 minutes,” Wang says. “It was hard to hold my breath and lift my arm and smile.”
Wang says the win still doesn’t feel real. He knows very few details about what his trip to the Grammys entails or even what day he leaves, though he should find out within the next couple of days. He gets to take one friend with him and has already chosen to take UT human development and family sciences sophomore Madie Flores, who he says encouraged him to go through with the contest. Wang hopes that he’ll have a chance to meet DeGeneres, if only to say thank you.
“Hopefully I’ll get to meet her! That’d be exciting,” Wang says. “I’m excited see Beyonce perform—and maybe meet her. I feel like she had to see that picture. She and Ellen are friends, and if there was this whole contest about her she had to have seen me.”
Other contestants that could be found on the Main Mall include freshman Briana Donis, who dressed up as pregnant Beyonce. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she says. “I’m pretty sure my chances here are better than my chances on my test.”
Here are sisters and UT students Briana and Jessica David who dressed up like Beyonce in her video for “Formation” and “Hold Up,” respectively.
UT student Tosa Nehikhuere dressed up as what he calls “7/11” Beyonce, using a wig from Party City, letters he printed out himself, and knee pads from Academy. “I saw Ellen’s tweet and I was just like, ‘Heck yeah, let’s do this.'”
Photos from top: UT sophomore Collin Wang in the Littlefield Fountain/Collin Wang; Crowd at the Main Mall/Anna Donlan; UT freshman Briana Donis/Anna Donlan ; Sisters and UT students Briana and Jessica David/Anna Donlan ; UT student Tosa Nehikhuere/Anna Donlan.
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