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Why did we think Barack Obama was at UNC in the first place?

Head men’s basketball coach Roy Williams and President Barack Obama after winning the NCAA Championship in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

In the midst of what is already one of the most exciting days of the year on campus at UNC, the Obama family decided to pump a little more adrenaline into the veins of Carolina students – or did they?

This morning the entire university was buzzing in anticipation of tonight’s showdown between the Tar Heels and the Dook Blue Devils, but after rumors surfaced claiming that former first daughter Sasha Obama was touring campus, things went to a whole new level.

We’d all heard former president Barack Obama was scheduled to take in the basketball game in Durham tonight, so was it really that implausible to believe they’d pop over to Chapel Hill for a quick visit? After all, Sasha is a senior in high school, so things seemed to be starting to add up.

As the chatter grew, so did the rumors, and things quickly turned into an all-out frenzy to spot Barry O himself. A “reported” sighting here, another one there. We all knew Obama was great, but who knew he could teleport?

Suddenly Sasha was said to be touring Carroll Hall, home of the School of Media and Journalism, and so the crowds gathered. While some waited outside in the pouring rain, others, myself included, walked laps in the school’s halls in hopes of catching a glimpse.

Out of nowhere, the family was supposedly in Carolina Hall, and like a pack of hungry piranhas, hundreds of students stormed across the Quad until the building was surrounded. The swarm seemed to keep growing with every pit stop.

I was able to weasel my way inside and as a few of us searched, we found that the doors leading to the building’s lower levels were locked – and for a brief moment we thought we had them cornered. We heard voices inside and even knocked on the door. I wonder what I would have said if Barack Obama himself had greeted me on the other side.

As the mob continued to grow, it took on a life of its own and sprinted towards the Old Well, only to realize that it was a regular old tour group, sans presidential daughter.

Everyone was desperately searching across campus, and for some reason, every single new bit of “information” was treated as absolute truth.

“My friend works at the B-school and said they just walked in!”

“They just got lunch at Cosmic Cantina!”

“The motorcade is parked behind Davis!”

It seemed like everyone knew something, but really, no one knew anything. We were all wildly running around campus in the freezing rain hoping to catch a peek at the former president and his family.

It was incredible to see the power of the mob at work. At any given moment, anyone could take off running in any direction, and hundreds of people would follow. Someone could say they saw Obama in the basement of DKE and we would all storm towards the frats. It was truly wild.

To everyone’s disappointment, it was later confirmed with the university’s head of campus security that Barack Obama was never on campus, nor was he even in the state.

There may not have been any substance to the claims spread all across campus, no one may have ever even caught a glimpse of any Obama, and it all may turn out to have been a hoax – but today turned out to be one of the most entertaining and exciting days in my four years at Carolina, and we haven’t even gotten to tip-off yet.

So, to whoever started the rumors, “spotted” Obama in the Pit and sprinted through the Quad, thank you. Thanks for adding a little extra excitement to one of the best days of the year. Now let’s go #BeatDook!

Conspiracy Theory: The tweet denying Barack Obama’s presence on campus clearly states Barack, but doesn’t deny the presence of Michelle or Sasha Obama. So, I will go to my grave believing Michelle and Sasha were on the other side of that door in the basement of Carolina Hall. Prove me wrong. 

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Zach Goins View All

Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for

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