Harry Potter is more than a fantasy for KSU student

Nick Glunt

“Harry Potter” fans around the world have crowned America’s biggest fan — and he attends Kent State.

“It was completely unexpected,” said Steve Petrick. “I’m glad it happened because — I’d hate to sound cocky — but it’s something I’ve been striving towards all my life.”

Petrick, a 22-year-old freshman fine arts major, won a contest through Moviefone on Nov. 23 by earning the most votes on a three-minute video he uploaded to YouTube.com. The video, listed as “World’s Biggest Harry Potter Fan,” showcases Petrick’s $13,000 collection of memorabilia while he explains exactly how obsessed he is.

Within his collection, Petrick has everything from a stuffed Hedwig the owl and Fawkes the phoenix to wands and movie prop replicas to a signed copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” The collection is a result of 12 years of collecting.

Petrick has read each of the seven books in the series more than a hundred times and said he knows the books “inside and out.”

He’s even got four tattoos inspired by the novels — including J.K. Rowling’s signature from when he met her in New York City. He refuses to get a lightning scar tattoo on his forehead like Harry Potter because he knows that could jeopardize his chance at landing a job.

He said his collection and his tattoos aren’t what make him the biggest fan, though.

“I’ve never given a damn about the craze. I was there before it was popular; I’m going to be there after it’s popular,” Petrick said. “It means something to me. It might not mean something to everyone else, but it means something to me.”

He’s learned more from the “Harry Potter” series than anything else in his life, he said.

“(‘Harry Potter’) doesn’t disclude anybody; it doesn’t say anybody is better than anybody else,” Petrick said of the lessons he learned through the series. “(The character) Kingsley Shacklebolt said, you know, ‘We’re all human.’ Every human life is the same as another.”

When Petrick officially won the contest, his video had earned 57 percent of the total 6,757 votes — 2,543 more than the second place contestant.

The girl who came in second place contacted him before the contest was over to cede the title to him, saying he was obviously going to win. He described his victory as a “landslide.”

“Honestly, I think it went viral because a lot of people say it’s like a train wreck,” Petrick said. “A lot of people see it as, ‘Oh, this poor kid.’”

With his victory came his prizes: a T-shirt of his choice from Bustedtees.com, movie tickets and the title of America’s biggest “Harry Potter” fan. He said, however, the title was obviously the motivating force.

And with the title came the fans and the naysayers. While one user wrote, “What astounds me is that he actually had a friend to hold the camera for him,” another said, “I think we should be best friends.”

He received a flood of e-mails and Facebook friend requests since his video went viral, but he said he’s thankful no one on campus recognizes him.

“A year ago, I would have been soaking this kind of thing up, like, ‘Oh, I’m famous,’” he said. “But now I’m like, ‘I’ve got finals coming up. I can’t deal with this crap.’”

He said he doesn’t ever think he’ll regret his tattoos or his love for the series.

“‘Harry Potter’ is for the rest of my life,” Petrick said. “I don’t plan on it ever going away.”

What makes Steve Petrick the biggest fan?

  • $13,000 collection
  • Said “Harry Potter” has taught him more than anything else in his life
  • Walking “Harry Potter” encyclopedia
  • Four “Harry Potter” tattoos, including one of J.K. Rowling’s signature
  • Wore dress robes to prom
  • Read the books more than a hundred times each
  • Waited four hours to get into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Fla. on opening day
  • Convinced his elementary school librarian to get the first book before the series was popular

Contact Nick Glunt at [email protected].