Erin Drewes finally returned a message left for her to talk about a six-year old picture that made her a brief and unwilling Internet star. She admitted she was apprehensive, in part because her first experience with fame was difficult at times.
She was photographed at a party with Tim Tebow in 2007. It wasn't her photo, and she doesn't even remember it being taken. Someone started the rumor that she was Tebow's girlfriend, and there was no stopping that train for a while, even though she didn't ask for any of the attention that came with it.
This was not typical in 2007. Twitter was just getting popular, the blogosphere was still growing. Drewes still has hard feelings about some of the things that were written about her on the Internet. She was just a normal college student who wasn't even dating Tebow (they were acquaintances who saw each other around the Florida campus once in a while, she has said), and all of a sudden she was reading rude comments about a picture someone else took. It isn't too unusual today for a girlfriend of a college football star to become an instant public figure, but it was a surprise for Tebow's non-girlfriend in those days.
Drewes didn't turn her 15 minutes into a Katherine Webb-type tour. She said she did one interview, with Playboy, and did some pictures for the magazine in which she wore a Tebow body paint jersey. She lives a normal life, as a nurse who is working on her master's degree to be a nurse practitioner. But she'll always be somewhat well known for being the student next to Tebow in that picture, thanks to Internet searches.
She was surprised to see the whole story resurface and get an interview request when she was included in our "Top five most famous college football girlfriends" list. She decided to chat with Dr. Saturday about what it's like to become an involuntary viral star and what it's like years after the fad has passed:
DS: Were you surprised to get an interview request about this? It happened so long ago.
ED: I was surprised figuring it was so long ago. But I was asked to do a lot of interviews around the time that it happened. The thought of doing an interview around the time it happened was scary and I usually didn't do them. I only did one, and that was the Playboy one.
DS: What was that like? I mean, you're at a party and take a random picture, and then all of a sudden you're all over the Internet.
ED: It was shocking. I didn't know why out of all the people that took pictures with Tebow, I ended up on the Internet. It was definitely something new and I didn't know how to handle it
DS: Did you like the picture? I hate just about every picture I've taken, and those aren't on the Internet for all of eternity for everyone to see.
ED: I'm not the biggest fan of the picture! I would have liked to look a little more appropriate in it. I feel like it doesn't represent who I am very well. But what can I do about it?
DS: In what way, when you say it doesn't represent you well?
ED: I feel like everyone is just looking at the obvious. I don't want to be labeled as a big boob bimbo like a lot of the blogs said. There is a lot more to me. The blogs were very hurtful.
DS: Do you regret doing the body paint pictures then?
ED: Now that I am older and wiser, I would probably not do it over again. But I don't necessarily regret it. It's a story I tell when I am old.
DS: Now that you have the outlet with us, what do you want people to know about you? I saw you're in nursing school.
ED: I am a nurse and working on my master’s to be a nurse practitioner. I guess I would just want people to know I am an average girl with a very normal life.
DS: So how do you feel about it all today? How often do people bring it up? Does it bring up bad memories of what people said about you that you had little control over?
ED: It gets brought up maybe like twice a year. I don't think twice about the things that were said about me. It hurt at the time but I got thicker skin from it. I will say if I ever have children it is a very good teaching tool on how to be smart about the pictures you take and the things you do!
DS: But that's the funny thing – how could you know? Do you remember taking the picture? That was a pretty innocent picture, one all of us have taken (although mostly not with Heisman winners) until someone decided to label you as Tebow's girlfriend and then it took on a life of its own.
ED: I don't remember taking it. It wasn't even my photo. Someone else took it.
DS: That's what I would figure. Typical "hey, smile!" picture at a party. And here you are, talking to Yahoo! Sports about it six years later.
What about Katherine Webb? I know it's a much different situation, but when you see what has happened to her, do you see parallels with what happened to you? Do you look at what she has done and the fame she now has and think you could have done anything different? Or maybe not, because she was Miss Alabama and used to the spotlight, and you were just a normal student who didn't really ask for any of this.
ED: You always have "what ifs." But let's be honest, if I couldn't take mean blogs, I definitely couldn't take the fame Webb has gotten.