Black, wide-brimmed hats, flower crowns and ombré wigs blanketed the Main Mall Tuesday as students competed in a Beyoncé costume competition to win two tickets to the 2017 GRAMMYs provided by The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“Last week two people at Georgia Tech won tickets to the #Superbowl. @UTAustin, I hope you’re free tomorrow,” talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted Monday.
DeGeneres followed up with instructions to meet at Main Mall at 3:30 p.m. in a Beyoncé costume.
“Her producers reached out,” UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said Tuesday. “The crew was already in Texas for the Super Bowl and thought it would be fun to stop by UT Austin. We were able to make it happen, and Ellen’s producers will be talking with UT Austin students this evening and giving away some prizes.”
The Ellen Show began showing a live-stream of Ellen’s Tuesday night episode at 5:30 p.m. to the UT audience before telling students to recreate a photo from Beyoncé’s latest photoshoot, in which she announced her pregnancy with twins, and submit it via email.
Based on the email submissions received, the competition was narrowed to five finalists. Collin Wang, human development and family sciences sophomore, won with a photo of him posing underwater in the Littlefield Fountain while wearing a flowy orange dress.
“People were going in the fountain, but no one was going underwater,” Wang said. “(It took) 20 minutes to take it, and it was hard because the water just kept going in my nose. It was a process, but it was worth it.”
Wang said he is taking the friend to the GRAMMYS who urged him to participate, Madie Flores, human development and family sciences sophomore. The remaining finalists won yearlong subscriptions to Hulu.
Sarah Ogunmuyiwa, women and gender studies and philosophy freshman, said she skipped her physical anthropology lab to dress up as Beyoncé.
“I’m literally skipping lab, literally putting my grade in jeopardy, (because) this is what this woman does to me,” Ogunmuyiwa said. “I’ll drop everything for her. This woman controls my life. Tell my professor to please excuse me so that I can do the other lab. ”
Student body president, Kevin Helgren, also attended the event to show his support.
“I think it’s a really cool opportunity, as (Ogunmuyiwa) said,” said Helgren, psychology and neuroscience senior. “Beyoncé, as a woman of color, inspires so many people, and on a campus like ours where black people make up 4 percent of the population, it’s great to see her unify campus in such a positive and powerful way.”
Undeclared freshman Mark Anthony Villafranco said he found out about the event through Ellen’s Twitter.
“I’m such a big fan of Ellen because … I’m gay,” Villafranco said. “She’s really an inspiration to anyone who came out, because even before I came out I watched Ellen … and it simply became very inspirational.”
Exercise science senior Angeli Ynbong wore a nude leotard, wrapped a teal shawl around her shoulders and embellished her hair with fake flowers to imitate Beyoncé’s maternity photoshoot.
“I didn’t really do this in the intention of really winning because UT has a lot of creative people,” Ynbong said. “I just wanted to participate in something like this because this only comes once in a lifetime and this is my last semester, so I just wanted to make it as memorable as possible.”