When news leaked out that the New Orleans Hornets would be changing their name to the Pelicans, each person online seemed to have an opinion. We at Deadspin endorsed it. Yahoo Answers did not. But everyone trying to think through the symbolism of the team's new name missed a more essential concern: What would the team do about its Twitter handle?
@NewOrleansPelicans is too long for Twitter's system. @NOPelicans makes the account seem like an anti-pelican concern (in other words, an oil company). The crown jewel, naturally, is @Pelicans—the Saints own @Saints, the Hornets own @Hornets, and so on—but there's an obstacle in the team's way. That obstacle is Michele Davis, who lives in Huntsville, Ala., works at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, and really, really loves pelicans. (She's pictured above, with some pelicans.) She has held the @pelicans handle since January 2008, when her husband signed her up.
So how'd you wind up with the @pelicans handle?
I really just love pelicans. My husband asked me what my username should be, I said, "Pelicans," because I love pelicans. They're my favorite animal, my husband got me a pelican-shaped piece of gold jewelry.
How'd you come to love pelicans?
It was March 2003—my email address is "pelicans2003"—when I first pet a pelican. I was at the beach with my then-boyfriend (now husband), near our hometown then, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. I saw a pelican at the end of the pier, and I just went up and pet it.
How'd the pelican react?
He thought I was crazy, of course. Who's this lady petting me?
We've written about the bloodlust with which pelicans operate. Is that something that draws you to them?
I don't look at them that way. I just like watching them dive down. It's survival of the fittest.
So what happened when the Hornets became the Pelicans?
The day they reported the new team name, my phone was going off all day. I have my phone set up to send an alert when someone tweets at me. I didn't realize what it was about. My husband was like, "Your phone has been going off all day!" Then we checked things out and found out why.
Right now, I think it's really funny. Some people are saying my account isn't real—like it's a joke—other people are just sending me really funny replies.
Has anyone approached you about turning the account over?
On Saturday night, I got a tweet from some guy saying he worked for the Hornets' PR department. He wanted me to turn over the account. He was very insistent and pushy; he said I needed to turn the account over immediately. But I did some digging into the account, and couldn't find any record of the man working for the team. [The handle was @HornetsPRGuy, and it's since been deleted from Twitter.] I think he was trying to scam me. But he didn't count on me doing that detective work.
Would you turn over the account if the Pelicans asked you to?
I would have to really think about it. I'd have to talk to them and figure it out. I don't yet know what Twitter's rules are about it. I think everybody has a price, right? But I really do like pelicans.
Interview has been condensed and edited. Photo courtesy Michele Davis.