Will Smith dropped it at the 2009 Oscars. Scott Van Pelt has used it on SportsCenter. Jon Stewart has trotted it out. But the first time Brian Collins, then a freshman at Ball State, uttered the phrase, "Boom goes the dynamite," he did not expect America to hear him. Yet as soon as he concluded his four-minute debut as a sports anchor for the campus television station in March 2005, it seemed, he was a Web-wide laughingstock. The most-viewed YouTube clip of his debacle has more than 4.6 million hits. Why? Well, Collins's phrase—used while narrating an Indiana Pacers clip—was merely the highlight of an exquisitely awful performance (marked by verbal stumbles and seconds-long pauses) that, like a car crash, was impossible to look away from.
"I got some negative publicity," says Collins, 25, who graduated with a telecommunications degree in '08. "But I [also] got a lot of calls from people in the business who had gone through the same experiences and who said, 'I'm really lucky that they didn't have YouTube when I had my big mistake.'" Collins (who, to be fair, was a last-minute fill-in) also got support from his friends, professors and colleagues at the station. After refusing for weeks to talk publicly about the incident, Collins appeared on David Letterman's show and on The Early Show. "It wasn't that I couldn't find it funny," says Collins, who has worked hard since to make sure his debut won't be his legacy. After graduation, he worked as an on-camera reporter at the ABC affiliate in Waco, Texas, and he's now a Web producer at the Fox station in Cincinnati. "Everyone I meet in the business seems to have stories of one time when they goofed up," says Collins. "I think the video [shows] that not everybody is perfect. But that doesn't mean that we can't still do great things."
THOMAS E. WITTE (COLLINS)