‘This is surreal’: Bombers superfan surprised, but thrilled, to find face on billboard

By | July 12, 2019

Shelley Wowryk had no idea her face was on a billboard until a co-worker, stuck in traffic waiting for a train to pass, looked over and saw a giant, blue-haired version of his colleague rocking out in full Winnipeg Blue Bombers gear.

“This is surreal,” Wowryk told CBC News on Thursday, standing at the intersection of Regent Avenue and Peguis Street, where her co-worker spotted the ad showing her under the slogan “Transcona #ForTheW.”

“It’s crazy, insane. I can’t even believe this.”

The billboard is part of the CFL team’s new “for the W” campaign, which features advertisements highlighting fans and players from different Winnipeg neighbourhoods — like Transcona.

Wowryck doesn’t mind seeing her face on the billboard. In fact, when she found out, she was stoked.

Wowryk started going to Bomber games in the 1980s with her dad. (Travis Golby/CBC)

“I screamed out loud, sent it to everybody, posted it on Facebook. So yeah, everyone, family and friends, are pretty excited.”

She also happened to grow up in Transcona, which added an extra layer to the excitement.

‘In the same league’ as Dancing Gabe

Wowryk remembers the exact night the photo was taken — last year’s Banjo Bowl, the annual post-Labour Day rematch between the Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“Part of our ritual is costumes, and we make a big day of it,” she said. 

“The Bombers marketing team approached us, loved the costumes, took us in for pictures. That was last September, so I thought all of it was over, and then this showed up.”

Wowryk is also sharing the limelight with a local legend in the campaign.

The billboards are scattered across the city and customized for each neighbourhood. (John Einarson/CBC)

Winnipeg sports superfan Dancing Gabe can be seen doing his thing on a similar Bombers billboard in St. Vital. 

“It’s kind of exciting that I’m in the same league as a guy like him,” she said. 

Local players Thomas Miles, Andrew Harris, and Nic Demski are also featured in billboards displayed in the neighbourhoods where they grew up. 

Permission to post 

For those who, unlike Wowryk, are nervous that going to a Bombers game could lead to seeing your face blown up on an ad, don’t fret. 

The Bombers organization told CBC News that before putting her face on the billboard, they made sure Wowryk signed a release and participated in the photo shoot knowing the photos could be used in marketing. 

And besides, it’s taken Wowryk a few decades as a die-hard bomber fan to reach this level of notoriety.  

She started going to Bombers games in the 1980s with her dad, and said her now-famous face will be watching the game at IG Field in Winnipeg on Friday. 

“I’ve always liked it,” she said.

“But the new hype of this ‘for the W’ [campaign], what coach [Mike] O’Shea’s done with the team, the players, just the whole team spirit — it’s very exhilarating and it’s fun to be part of.”

The Bombers face the Toronto Argonauts at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday.  

Blue Bomber billboards showcase fans and players from Winnipeg neighbourhoods. 3:11

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