The Real Story Behind that Viral College Snapchat Love Story

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If you’ve been online in the past 48 hours, you might’ve seen headlines about a college romance blossoming after two University of Wisconsin students saw each other on Snapchat. (Yes … Snapchat.)

If you haven’t, here’s the tl;dr version: Last Thursday night, a female student dubbed “Mystery Girl” declared her “love” for fellow student “Vikings Fan” on the UW Snapchat story (a public aggregation of snaps from students).

Mystery Girl told Vikings Fan to come find her, and the pair, in classic romantic-comedy fashion, tried and failed to meet up several times. Also in classic romantic-comedy fashion, their classmates started rooting for them, and Snapchat created a “HELP VIKINGS FAN FIND MYSTERY GIRL” photo filter, adding to the mania. Finally, after hours (which in Snapchat time is years, if not decades) of missed connections, the two met up in a campus bar and lived happily ever after. (You can read our initial coverage here, or watch the short video from The Tab below.)

Until now, the pair were known only by their Snapchat monikers “Mystery Girl” and “Vikings Fan.” But after a little internet sleuthing (read: Facebook stalking), we tracked the couple down. Both are 22-year-old seniors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and, for privacy, have asked to be referred to only by their first names: Abby and Reed.

Abby, a.k.a. “Mystery Girl,” is majoring in zoology and environmental studies, and contemplating a move to Florida after graduation (“I just love the sun”). And Reed, a.k.a. “Vikings Fan,” is a biomedical-engineering student with his sights set on med school.

“I don’t regret what I snapped, because everybody is saying how bold and funny it was, but it definitely made me look a little desperate,” Abby told me. “But I don’t care, because obviously now I’m here.” Abby’s sent many snaps to the UW campus story in the past but says she’d never been featured prior to going viral.

“I didn’t think my snap [to Reed] would even get posted,” she said. “I hadn’t found the right lighting, or taken my hair down, or taken my glasses off. I just opened my phone and recorded my snap in one try.”

Meanwhile, Reed was working on a class project when a friend texted him to say that a girl had “called him out” on Snapchat.

“I was thinking some girl was throwing hate at the Vikings or something, and I went on there ready to fire right back,” Reed told me when we spoke on the phone Monday.

For Abby and Reed, the best part was watching the snaps from other UW students cheering them on in their attempts to meet. “The two lonely guys” — a pair of students who submitted several snaps about their own romantic problems to the “HELP VIKINGS FAN FIND MYSTERY GIRL” story — “sitting on the couch were literally the MVPs of the story. I don’t even care that they tried to steal our thunder, because I thought it was hysterical,” Abby said.

Despite the campus camaraderie, the two almost missed each other. By the time Reed showed up to the KK, the campus bar Abby told him she’d be at, Abby had already left. (In Reed’s defense, he was working on that class project until 1 a.m.)

“The KK was closing up when he finally got there, so the doors to get in were locked, and I couldn’t get back in. I actually had to sneak through the exit door,” Abby said. “Usually, if you do that the bouncer throws you out.”

When the two finally met, Abby and Reed ran into each other’s arms for a long embrace — documented entirely on Snapchat, of course. (Isn’t 2016 fun?)

“It was, um, pretty emotional,” Reed said.

“I almost didn’t let go,” Abby added.

After that, Reed “got her number and walked her home” and the two have spent “every day-ish together” since, though they explicitly told me they are “definitely not dating.” Activities have included watching “some stupid scary movie,” baking brownies, and attending a block party in downtown Madison.

“I told Reed to wear the Vikings jersey just for shits and giggles, because I didn’t think people would recognize us [at the party] unless he wore it,” Abby explained. “That was probably a bad move. We got there and within 45 seconds we were completely mobbed and had to leave.”

So, was it staged? Abby and Reed both swore to me that their Snapchat meet-cute was fate and not a fake. “This was 100 percent legit,” Reed told me. “Some place came out with an article that said we were models paid by Snapchat. That’s just absurd.”

“If you look on Facebook, we only became friends yesterday,” Abby explained. “We just added each other on Snapchat. We have all the evidence to prove this is real.”