Money raised in viral Clemson mascot fundraiser will go towards helping wild tigers worldwide

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 25, 2020

What began as a playful joke between LSU and Clemson fans during the College Football National Championship game is now being used to help tigers around the world.

The viral GoFundMe account was created in the first quarter of the championship game by Dion Grossnickle as a joke - one he never expected to get beyond his circle of friends.

It's raised more than $3,000 as of Saturday afternoon.

"This page was created to gain some smiles and create some giggles...I thought the post on my Facebook page would be seen by a handful of my friends that happen to be LSU fans...Little did I know that the post would be seen by millions upon millions of people and raise a few thousand dollars," the fundraiser's page now reads.

Grossnickle said once he realized his joke was making the rounds he worried Clemson fans would be upset. He himself is a fan of the team. But he said he quickly learned that Clemson fans "have a great sense of humor. Hats off to each of you."

So if it's not going towards a new mascot, where is the money headed?

Grossnickle reached out to the Clemson Athletic Department once he realized the page raised a good amount of money to see where the funds could best be used. He said he "wanted to be 100% certain that they made the decision."

In the end, the Clemson Tigers decided to donate the funds to Tigers United, a consortium organized by Auburn, Clemson, LSU, and the University of Missouri, who "want their mascot to roar forever."

The group, comprised of the four "tiger schools," is committed to save the remaining populations of wild tigers. The universities come together in academic disciplines important to tiger conservation. They focus on training, research, technology transfer, and strategic communications.

According to WAFB, Grossnickle posted a photo on Facebook in which a check for $2,931.39 is addressed to Clemson University, something Dion said he never thought he'd do.

In the end, the funds will be put to a good cause that unites Tigers across the world, wild and mascot alike, in a small way.

Dion added, "The joke that I attempted to make turned into something very special. Geaux Tigahs and Go Tigers."

Learn more about the work of Tigers United and donate to their cause here.