HUNTINGTON — A Seattle, Washington, man is now the proud owner of a certified “incredibly heavy sign” that bears the name of his favorite Huntington-based podcast, and he hopes to use it to raise even more money for charity.
Wade Atkinson was the winning bidder of a Habitat for Humanity of the Tri-State ReStore auction for a large, metal sign used on the set of the “My Brother, My Brother and Me” TV show, which was shot in Huntington. MBMBaM, as the podcast is known by fans, is hosted by brothers and Huntington natives Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy.
Atkinson’s bid was $3,200, which will go to build houses in the Tri-State area.
The freelance photographer picked up the sign from the ReStore on Tuesday morning, where he was greeted by Justin McElroy and his wife, Sydnee, a doctor and podcaster. The McElroys presented Atkinson with a certificate of authenticity, proving it was indeed an “incredibly heavy sign” and it is no longer Justin McElroy’s problem.
“Just in case he tries to drop it off at my house, there is documentation that he cannot because it is no longer my problem,” Justin McElroy said.
Atkinson was also given all of the McElroy family podcast books, including their graphic novels based on their Dungeons and Dragons podcast, “The Adventure Zone,” and Justin and Sydnee’s book, “Sawbones.”
The pair also brought Jolly Pirate Donuts, mentioned on the show.
“Oh my gosh! I was going to stop, but I didn’t know where it was!” Atkinson exclaimed.
Atkinson said nearly all the media he consumes is McElroy family productions. He said their style of humor appeals to him — “hilarious and kind, but a little raunchy.”
When he saw the sign was up for auction with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity, he decided to bid. But it was already over $1,000 after just a day or two, so he had a feeling he would be outbid.
“I set a max in my head of $5,000, and my partner said she would give $5, so it went up to $5,005,” Atkinson said. “Which maybe is a little crazy, but I was OK because it’s going to charity. I didn’t bid until the last five minutes.”
Atkinson made the five-day trip to Huntington in his mom’s Subaru. He packed a cooler and slept in his car, mainly as a pandemic precaution.
The first purchase he made on the trip was Fazoli’s, something he’d only ever heard of on the podcast.
“This is a special visit for me,” he said. “It’s my first time to Huntington, but it has a special place in my heart because of the McElroy family. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit.”
On the trip back home, Atkinson plans to stop and share the sign with other MBMBaM fans for photo ops. He is also raising money for the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which assists black trans people. The sign will go in his “reasonably small apartment,” and once he gets tired of it — which Justin predicted happening by Wyoming — Atkinson plans to sell the sign again for charity.
While Justin McElroy joked the purchase was probably “one of the more ill-advised decisions” Atkinson had made, he said his family’s fans are truly the best in the world.
“Our fans are really generous,” he said. “But we expected maybe a few hundred dollars, not thousands.”
This is not the first time the McElroys have used their platform to give back to their hometown. The family hosts its popular “Candlenights” holiday live show in Huntington, and it draws fans from around the world. The 2019 sold-out event benefited Harmony House. In previous years, fans have contributed in amounts reaching the tens of thousands of dollars for causes that have included Recovery Point, Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia and The Herald-Dispatch’s Empty Stockings campaign.
The ReStore has another big-ticket item for sale at the moment — a jail door from the now-demolished Cabell County Jail.