The 25 millionth fan

Wednesday, 06.11.2013 / 3:20 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
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The 25 millionth fan
If there\u2019s one person in Vancouver happy the weather has changed, it\u2019s Jeff Donohoe.
If there’s one person in Vancouver happy the weather has changed, it’s Jeff Donohoe.

“I was cutting my lawn a few weeks ago when someone biking by stopped and approached me,” explained the RE/MAX realtor. “’Are you that guy I saw on TV?’ he asked.”

Why yes, yes he is.

Jeff has been getting recognized a lot lately and his 15 minutes of fame won’t stop anytime soon.

He and his son Johnny were listening to the radio on their way to watch the Vancouver Canucks play the San Jose Sharks on October 10th and they heard that the 25 millionth guest in history to attend an event at Rogers Arena would be arriving in roughly 15 minutes.

“I looked at Johnny and told him we were about 15 minutes away, and he just grinned.”

By the time father and son arrived at the rink, they had all but forgotten about the momentous occasion. Walking up to Gate 3, there was a line-up to the right, so they veered to the left and right up to the doors where a concierge took their tickets and welcomed them in.

It was clear to Johnny what was going on, but not his dad.

“There was so much hoopla surrounding the whole night that I didn’t think anything of the balloons or all the people gathered around. I was shaking hands with people and it wasn’t until Francesco Aquilini said hello, told me I was the 25 millionth fan and asked if we’d like to drop the puck to start the game that I realized what was going on.

“It was pretty surreal.”

What was just a night out with his son quickly became so much more and from arriving at Rogers Arena to settling in their seats for the game, Jeff and Johnny received rock star treatment.

After meeting Aquilini, Mike Gillis and other Canucks staff, Jeff and Johnny were whisked down to ice level to perform the ceremonial puck drop following the national anthems. The pair stood between captains Joe Thornton and Henrik Sedin and dropped the puck to commemorate the event and Jeff was then informed he'd received Canucks season tickets, as well as tickets to all Live Nation events at Rogers Arena over the course of the year, for being the 25 millionth fan.

Wowza.

“It was an amazing night, I didn’t stop shaking for about an hour and I’ve relived it 1,000 times. It’s funny, some patches of it are just a blur because it all happened so fast and looking back, I’m really glad Johnny was there for the whole thing, that really made it even more special for me.”

With it being his lucky night and all, Jeff wanted to buy 50-50 tickets that night, but navigating the concourse proved too difficult thanks to his newfound celebrity. Johnny even felt it as well two nights later after watching the Canucks play the Montreal Canadiens when he was recognized on the SeaBus and asked to pose for a photo.

“It’s just all so overwhelming and truly surreal. I'm honoured to be the 25 millionth fan.”

Jeff wasn’t the only winner that night as those 19-or-older received a beer upon arrival, 23 fans won the game-worn jerseys from the Canucks post-game and Justin Lai won a pair of tickets to 20 Live Nation events as the #RA25Mill social media winner.