Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The Super Prank. John Hargrave at pulled off a breathtaking prank at the Super Bowl and is currently telling the story of the prank, in installments, at his website. Although strictly speaking the prank didn't have the visual impact he hoped for, it is still amazing from a planning and execution standpoint. Plus, Rob Cockerham from was on his IMF team, which gives it more geek cred.

"For our latest prank, we wanted to show how easy it would be to broadcast a secret message not just on national TV, but on TV's biggest event.

We hacked the Super Bowl.

During the second quarter of the big game, a team of elite, highly-trained pranksters quietly distributed 2,350 packets to the lower east section of Dolphin Stadium. These "Party Packs" were labeled by individual seat and row number, and contained a six-inch light-up necklace. An official-looking brochure explained that by turning on the necklace lights during the halftime show, audience members would spell the word "PRINCE." But they didn't. They spelled a secret message that we broadcast to 93.1 million people."

"You're about to read a real-life heist story. Super Bowl XLI was a Level One national security event, usually reserved for Presidential inaugurations. We had to get two full vanloads of materials through federal marshals, police, police dogs, bomb squads, ATF, robots, and a five-ton state-of-the-art X-ray crane. We spent four months on this prank, which required five people on the inside, one on the outside, and dozens of support staff. "

Although Hargrave has not yet revealed what the message was, analysis of the video seems to indicate that it included a Mooninite from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the cartoon character that shut down the city of Boston when they overreacted to a guerilla marketing campaign.

[UPDATE : 11:20 PM - It would appear that I may have fallen victim to a meta-sub-prank. On the talkbacks at John's site, he reveals that he'll link to any videos of the prank, even if they're crazy. I found this mooninite clip there, but YouTube user may have faked it up, or posted it for an accomplice who faked it up. So, until John finishes his story, consider the message a mystery for now...-MJM]

[UPDATE: 02/15/07 9:00pm Hargrave finished the last installment of his story, but DIDN'T REVEAL WHAT THE MESSAGE WAS. I'm pretty cheesed, because now I HAVE TO KNOW what it was. Rob at Cockeyed hasn't revealed it yet, either. I've procured a Hi-Def video of the halftime show and I'm about to start mining it for better imagery. I'll update this post with whatever I can find...
I'm getting a lot of traffic from all over the world, which is very exciting. Email me at to say hi or help me crack this puzzle. Or, leave a comment below...
- MJM]

[UPDATE: 03/09/07 5:35pm WOW I had given up on this weeks ago, but I just got this email:

Figured it out? I can't, but have you seen the"secret" pages? first one: when deciphered leadsto: has a zip file and a riddle. I can't solve theriddle as I don't know what is on page 83 of his book. The zip file contains a photoshop image with 51layers that when deciphered allegedly just say, But I can't believe that is it, all thatbuildup just for Check that stuff out, whatdo you think? What's the point of the riddle if youcan solve the photoshop with just a macro? - Archibald

This is cool and now I don't think Hargrave is a tool anymore.
I suspected that the message was ZUG.COM as that's the only message that would have made sense. Nice job, Archibald (and whomever else found this out.)]


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