By Anna Meany–
You may have never heard of Michael Paoloni, who, until just recently, has kept his identity a secret – but there’s a chance you’ve heard of Elle Raiser.
Paoloni, senior who hails from Palm Beach, Florida, is a Sports Administration major with a double minor in Justice Administration and Communications.
Elle Raiser – it’s hard to define exactly what it is. Firstly, it’s a Twitter and Facebook account. Paoloni stepped inside the Cardinal’s office to talk about his baby – an internet domain that’s transformed how UofL athletic fans connect.
Secondly, Paoloni is Elle Raiser. “Anyone that knows me knows that I’m on my phone every day from when I wake up until when I go to bed.” It’s a full-time job that he’s taken on for the love of Louisville.
“The reason why I wanted to keep it a secret is because it’s not about me. If someone reads a sports website, everyone knows whose opinion it is. The focus wasn’t on me…it’s about the sports and athletes.”
The Florida native explained that it all started with an RSO called L-Raisers, and when he saw opportunity to make the name much bigger than it was, he went for it.
But Elle Raiser has become so much more than an online username. Paoloni started Elle Raiser to bring Cardinal love to sports that didn’t always receive the most primetime coverage. He’s taken to Facebook and Twitter to post about athletes and fans – as well as interact with just about everyone who talks to him. He’s a cool, collected guy who’s clearly working for his fan base.
Not to mention, one retweet from Elle Raiser can earn you not only a couple more followers, but a tiny ego boost.
“It’s interesting now that everyone knows who I am because people are wanting to take pictures with me, and I’m just not used to that. It’s weird having the celebrity status.”
Paoloni connects with students and Cardinal fans of all ages online. “There are 60 year-old men and women who send me pictures of their grandkids in Louisville stuff. I just got a message from a kid in Kansas telling me that he loves what I do – and that’s what I really love.”
Maybe what everyone loves about Paoloni is because he’s not on ESPN making thousands of dollars to say he’s a Cardinal – he’s a student just like us. “I can relate to the students.” But don’t go thinking that his superego takes away from his studies.
“Sometimes, you’ll see a gap in my tweets. I have tests and homework and class. I’m a college student, too.”
Paoloni is definitely a candidate for most school spirited – he’s started selling t-shirts, which reminds me of how close-knit my high school was. As funny as it sounds, seeing men and women all over campus draped in “You Don’t Want These Cards” shirts is pretty empowering.
He says “now that I’m friends with most of the athletes, I like doing it for them. They deserve the recognition.”
And all of this came from a converted Miami fan? “I knew one thing about Louisville before I came here. I was in my dorm room watching the Rutgers game when they blocked the field goal. I had no idea that blocked field goal would change my entire college experience.”
But Elle Raiser has changed the student experience at UofL – spreading cardinal love via the Internet has changed the way we interact. He mentioned how much attention Tailgate with Pink got – an online competition between colleges to get the Victoria’s Secret Pink Bus to visit campus – and the success of his video, “Lexington is for the Birds.”
“It shows the impact of social media on us,” but also reflects the influence cardinal fans have had on social media.
Even though he’s as recognizable as some of the players he cheers for, Paoloni hasn’t lost the pride that inspired Elle Raiser.
“I’m humbled that it has become what it is.”
Still, Elle Raiser doesn’t have an easy definition – but students and fans everywhere can agree that it’s a force not to be reckoned with.
As for the senior, fans should have no concern that he’ll disappear anytime soon. “I want to keep doing Elle Raiser even after I graduate.”
Elle Raiser can be followed at www.facebook.com/elleraiser or on Twitter @elleraiser.
Photo by Anna Meany / The Louisville Cardinal