Carson King became famous overnight in Iowa by holding a sign up during ESPN’s “College GameDay” at Iowa State on Sept. 14.
King’s sign said “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished ~Venmo~ Carson-King-25.” King raised $20,000 initially, receiving more than $2 million in pledged matching donations after he declared he would donate the funds to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
Busch Light said in a tweet they would send King a “year’s worth of Busch Light, but first we had to make sure the cans were for a King. Let us know where to send the truck.”
However, the tweet has since been deleted and Anheuser-Busch InBev, Busch Light’s parent company, and they said in a statement they are ending their association with King, but will still donate more than $350,000 in matching funds to the hospital.
Aaron Calvin, a ex-reporter for the Des Moines Register, wrote a profile on King.
During the reporting process, Calvin looked into King’s background — including his Twitter history. Calvin discovered racist tweets from 2012 on King’s Twitter and reached out to King. King then scheduled a press conference late Tuesday and apologized for his old tweets.
Following publication of Calvin’s story, people looked into Calvin's Twitter history — finding several racist, misogynistic and homophobic tweets of his own that have since been deleted.
The Des Moines Register said in a tweet following the discovery of Calvin’s own tweets “[t]he Register is aware of reports of inappropriate social media posts by one of our staffers, and an investigation has begun.”
After these events, Gov. Kim Reynolds designated Saturday as “Carson King Day” in a proclamation the following day.
“[V]olunteerism and selflessness defines Iowans by nature," the proclamation said. "Because in Iowa, individuals like Carson King demonstrate how Iowa Nice isn’t just a slogan, but our way of life. Carson King can showcase who we are as a people, not only by selflessly donating to a worthy cause, but spreading the message of generosity. Because of his efforts, over $1 million and counting has gone towards the renowned University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City.”
Late Thursday the Des Moines Register’s executive editor Carol Hunter penned a column explaining the paper’s actions.
“I want to be as transparent as possible about what we did and why, answer the questions you’ve raised and tell you what we’ve learned so far and what we’ll try to do better,” Hunter said. “For one, we’re revising our policies and practices, including those that did not uncover our own reporter’s past inappropriate social media postings. That reporter is no longer with the Register.”
Over the intervening days, King’s fundraising continued to increase. He took to the field Saturday at the University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium to join in “the wave” to those in the children’s hospital overlooking the stadium.
The Wave, Carson King edition pic.twitter.com/G3Ph1Urt9u— Mike OBrien (@mobrientv) September 28, 2019