One Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan took the team’s “Raise the Flags” hashtag promotion to dizzying heights.
Tampa Bay launched a “Raise the Flags” campaign as its hashtag during the playoffs, challenging fans to post photos showing their Bucs support. Rick Clark pretty much beat them all, flying a large flag from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, according to The Athletic. The peak of Kilimanjaro rises 19,341 feet above sea level.
“19,341 ft,” Clark tweeted Friday. “Challenging any Bucs fan to raise it higher #GoBucs #RaiseTheFlags #LFG!!!”
Clark, 32, lives about an hour south of Raymond James Stadium, where Super Bowl LV will be held on Sunday. Clark was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida, and is a die-hard Buccaneers fan, WFTS reported. He works as a numismatist for NGC in Lakewood Ranch and has made trips north to Tampa since 2013 as a season-ticket holder, the television station reported.
Clark said he tries to take one international trip each year. This year, he decided to tackle Kilimanjaro and take a safari in the Serengeti, The Athletic reported. Clark originally was going to Africa in late February so that he would not miss the Super Bowl, but COVID-19 cancellations forced his trip to be rescheduled for late January, the website reported.
Clark told WFTS that he took the photo on Thursday morning in Tanzania, which is eight hours ahead of Tampa. He added that it took him seven days to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, the television station reported.
“It was 5 degrees Fahrenheit with about 35 mph wind gusts,” Clark said.
“It’s grueling, and you’re in the elements all seven days, and every day, you have less oxygen than the day before,” Clark told The Athletic. “Every day’s a little colder than the day before. From Night 2 on, it’s below-freezing temperatures. The air gets thinner, the climbs get a little steeper. It becomes a physical toll, just starts to wear you down, so by the time you get to your summit day, you’re pretty exhausted.”
Clark did not know the result of the Bucs’ victory against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 23, as he was making progress toward the summit of the highest mountain in Africa.
While on safari Saturday, Clark noticed local porters checking their phones, meaning they had a cell signal, The Athletic reported.
He found a tent with other Americans.
“I said ‘Do you guys have an international plan?’ They said yes, and I said, ‘Do you mind looking something up for me?’” Clark told The Athletic. “I was able to pull up the score, and I was elated.”
Clark said he had never posted anything on social media before his photo at the summit. He mostly used Twitter to follow the Bucs and Tampa Bay’s NHL franchise, the Lightning. But when he heard about the #RaiseTheFlags campaign, Clark packed a Bucs flag and had a photo snapped at the summit.
“I was like, ‘Done. That’s exactly what I’m doing,’” Clark told The Athletic. “I thought it might get some attention, but it definitely blew up bigger than I thought.”
As it turned out, another Bucs fan topped Clark’s feat. Andy Bain, a Fort Myers resident who is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, raised his flag while flying at 24,000 feet.
Both Buccaneers fans are flying high.
Clark is hoping he can fly home in time to see Sunday’s game at home. He will fly from Kilimanjaro to another airport in Tanzania, The Athletic reported. Then he will make connections in Amsterdam and Atlanta before arriving in the Tampa Bay area.
Clark has enjoyed the attention.
“Every time I’ve been able to check in to a place with WiFi after I got down from the mountain, I’m seeing how many people want to do interviews,” he told The Athletic. “First tweet of my life, and it’s blown up big.”
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