Back in 2004, Mike Kai and David Aulicino were seniors at Yale University, when they, along with 20 friends dressed as the fictional “Harvard Pep Squad,” cheekily entered Harvard’s football stadium and convinced 1,800 unsuspecting Crimson fans to help spell out two words – “WE SUCK.” The prank, brilliant in its simplicity, actually took more than a year of planning to properly execute.
The Yale crew’s original plan was to enter the stadium before kickoff, and place red and white construction paper underneath the seats of Harvard fans. The paper was to be laid out precisely so that when raised, the completed sign would read “WE SUCK.” However, Kai, Aulicino, and the other students had to call off their prank before it even began. Someone had called in a bomb threat before the game started, and Yale police evacuated the stadium, searching everyone who was inside, and inadvertently throwing a wrench in their ingenious scheme.
The second time around, the pair didn’t take any chances. They came up with a new and improved plan to prank their rivals during the annual football game. They got Harvard fans to unknowingly assist; by forming the ‘Harvard Pep Squad’ – an invented student group that would offer a believable reason for interacting with the Crimson crowd – rather than tape the papers to the seats, they crept around the stadium passing out pre-ordered stacks of the red and white papers.
In order to guarantee the success of their new plan, it was necessary for the Yale students to familiarize themselves with the layout of Harvard Stadium. A month before the scheduled game, the pair drove up to Cambridge and photographed the stadium. Back in New Haven, Kai and Aulicino developed a fairly sophisticated blueprint of the Harvard Stadium. In order to fully convince the Harvard fans, the Yale students designed their own “Harvard Pep Squad” t-shirts, donned red and white face paint, and even doctored fake Harvard student IDs, courtesy a Harvard student ID card that belonged to a friend’s ex-girlfriend.
A decade ago, there was no such thing as YouTube or Smartphones. If the Yale students wanted to share what they did, they had to publish and distribute the video themselves. After the game, Kai and Aulicino created the website ‘HarvardSucks.org’ and hosted it on Yale’s servers. Their video quickly went viral, on the first day they hit 100,000 views and by the second they reached 1.2 million views. The popular video forced Yale servers to crash and as a result shut down the campus system for a few hours.
In order to cover the cost of the prank, an estimated $750, they began to sell posters of the “WE SUCK” sign for $10. Originally hoping just to break even, the poster sales covered their expenses within the first hour, excess of which was donated to relief efforts for the big Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. “Something like $10 grand when it was all over with! We also threw a big raging party of course,” Kai wrote on Reddit.
A group of Yale Students managed to pull of the greatest college prank of all time, it’s relatively tame and non-malicious nature even let them get away with it scot-free!