Riding the Patriots Wave: Babikian Mixes Fun and Fandom
Photo Credit: WHDH
Brian Babikian, known to most New England fans as “the Spike King,” rose to stardom after spiking a cheesesteak in Philadelphia.
Babikian at an early age, was not all into the Patriots like he is known for today.
“As a young kid, I actually grew up loving the Red Sox, all about baseball,” Babikian said. “My parents would take me to a game once a year starting back in 1996. So I always grew up loving the Sox more than the Patriots at the time.”
Babikian’s memories of his Patriots fandom go back to some of the best moments, which includes the 2001 Patriots and Raiders AFC Divisional tilt, which is popularly dubbed the “Snow Bowl.”
“I would go to my grandparents’ house in Everett and watch the games every Sunday,” Babikian said. “The 2001 run sticks out the most, I remember watching the Super Bowl with my dad and brother.”
Babikian continued to be a diehard Boston sports fan and go through life like any normal person but in 2015, the 300 lb Babikian was hit with a severe back injury, which signaled that it was time for a change.
“I used to weigh close to 300 lbs,” Babikian said. “I started to cut the weight off. I cut
myself down to around 285. Then 260. But eventually, I hurt my back early 2015. I ended up having back surgery on an L4/L5 herniated disk that July, days before my birthday. It was a wakeup call for me. I recovered quick and that October, I started working out crazy. With hard work and dedication, I got myself down to 198 lbs.”
As the weight came off, he started to resemble Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“We would joke within my group of friends about it. Sometimes strangers say it,” Babikian noted. “It’s a certain side look with my eyes and cheeks that I look like him I guess. Myself and a friend were at the Greatest Bar before a Bruins Game. NESN was there doing a ticket giveaway. Elle Duncan saw me, whispered to her cameraman, and asked if I wanted to be interviewed. She goes, ‘so Young Gronk.’ This was after their loss to the Broncos in the 2015 AFC Title Game. After that, the name stuck with me and that’s when I changed my Instagram, Twitter, all that to it.”
Even though he had seen some attention with posts on Snapchat, it was the infamous cheesesteak spike that made him a household name among Patriots fans.
“We drove down. Got to [Philadelphia] around 5:30 a.m,” Babikian said. “My first video we filmed was on the Rocky steps, then the Rocky statue. Next stop was Pat’s/Geno’s which are open 24/7. Then we drove to the Race Street Pier and finished off at [Lincoln Financial Field]. It was a wild day. I was up for over 24 hours and we left around 2:00 p.m. to head back to Boston.”
With the encouragement from fellow Boston sports fans, he spiked the Philly cheesesteak and the rest is history as his video went viral with Eagles fans and local media outlets going into a frenzy.
“Barstool shared it. Even [Philadelphia’s] local NBC news covered it too,” Babikian said. “It’s funny to see the spins placed on it. They think smashing food on the ground was like me taking a baby and spiking it into the ground. The internet is truly a funny place. I never get fazed when people make fun of me. I got what I wanted, I grabbed your attention. By the way, we cleaned it up after.”
Since then, donning the “Spike King” mantra after dropping “Young Gronk” due to the danger of being held liable, Babikian has been heavily involved throughout the community, taking part in Best Buddies where he was recently named to a Publicity chair position.
It is his responsibility to come up with creative ideas to get people involved with the foundation, which is already supported by some of the Patriot elite including Tom Brady and Julian Edelman.
Babikian talked about his work with Best Buddies and feels that it’s important to not forget about where you came from by helping the community.
“I always felt that it was important to give back from the start. Its how I am raised. Do good on those who do good to you,” Babikian said. “That’s something that I knew if I had the right platform, I want to use it to spread positivity and awareness for other organizations. Sure, you might see me slam a cheesesteak or a terrible towel and think I’m a tool. But that’s just part of having the fun. If you have a platform and you have the ability to send a message out there, do it. It only makes us continue to grow (as a community).”
While he believes it is a surreal feeling that people recognize him, he just wants people to be comfortable with him and to know that he’s an easy person to approach.
“It’s been cool lately when people notice me,” Babikian said. “Honestly, you come up to me I will talk to you. I’m nobody special. I’ll crack jokes. Tell stories. It’s actually funny to see people give me a dirty look too. People take life/football too serious. Sometimes, you won’t be liked. Jealously. Greed. Arrogance. Whatever it is, never bothers me. I continue to roll on.”
The Massachusetts native has adopted the saying “ride the wave” that has become very popular, and told the story about how it came to be.
“It actually started last February after the Super Bowl. I went on this gambling run on Bovada. Started with a $25 bet on the Celtics,” Babikian said. “I kept taking that money and throwing it back in each day on another bet. Even with some wins and losses, I turned that $25 to $4000. I was betting the max, $1000 on random games like the Vegas Knights or Cavs. People would call me an absolute nut and I would just say ‘Ride the Wave’.
“It was a fun couple weeks and we would make a joke about it. Then I used that phrase and adapted it after I got my Super Bowl LIII tattoo before the season started.” Babikian said. “I told everyone on the news to ‘Ride The Wave’ all the way to Atlanta. I knew there would be ups-and-downs during the season, (but at the) end of the day, always ride and support through it all.”
Babikian hopes to ride this wave as long as it will take him and hopes the Patriots make it all the way because of how special he believes the organization is.
“We are all Patriots,” Babikian said. “This organization has showed how everyone can come together as one to not only achieve success on the field but within the community as well. Look at the 2001 Patriots. They were the first team to ever be introduced as a team when coming out during the Super Bowl. Even this playoff run when they say #EverythingWeGot. It shows that it’s all about a group coming together, as one, to succeed.”