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Gone IRL online dating hits Missouri with 50 dates in 50 states | Art Stories and Interviews | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events

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Matt Wurnig, aka the “TikTok Bachelor”, recently brought his 50 appointments in 50 states project in Missouri.

When the text arrived, Sara Richter was chilling, watching american idol with his family in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. “Is it real?” she remembers thinking. But then Richter, 21 and a student at Mizzou, realized she had the same message on her SnapChat.

“I’m not even kidding, I screamed and scared half-dead mom,” Richter says. “Okay, that’s not wrong. As I can answer now. But I was so excited.

Like many youthful missives, these texts were about a date and an eligible bachelor — specifically, Matt Wurnig, the “TikTok Bachelor.” It’s the star of 50 appointments in 50 states, a TikTok channel, podcast and social media phenomenon detailing Wurnig’s experiences with women in every US state. It’s currently in its second season, following a premiere that started with virtual dates and ended with them in real life.

Although the concept of 50 appointments artist-esque pickup sounds, that’s not the vibe that Wurnig gives off. What stands out on his channel is above all the enthusiasm for new experiences and the pleasure tinged with youthful stupidity. It also seems possible that everyone involved is part of a generation comfortable with the idea of ​​doing things for social media visibility.

Something in there explains Richter’s enthusiasm.

“I saw Matt’s first two videos,” Richter says. “I thought that was a really cool idea.”

50 appointments is a pandemic project that has exploded. Wurnig, who is from a farming town outside of Billings, Montana, was working for a baseball team in North Dakota when COVID hit. As life went virtual, he started looking for something to entertain himself and others.

“Everyone was looking for ways to have fun, and they’re bored at home, so I decided to go on a virtual date with a girl in every state,” says Wurnig, explaining how he got started. to share clips of their virtual meetings. on TikTok. “I started to gain traction online. That’s when I decided to up the ante and go meet them all in person.

Wurnig designed a logo, had his truck packed up, and began traveling across the United States on his appointments. Traveling extensively for the first time during the pandemic has proven to be a challenge, with businesses closing early, as has figuring out how to build your brand and gain media attention.

The latter got easier in the second season, as Wurnig now works with Lobeline Communications, an entertainment PR agency based in Los Angeles. This means less scrambling for attention, not having to position the camera itself, and less troubleshooting.

Wurnig recalls a dozen instances where he would arrive in a state to find his date out of town or otherwise unavailable. Canceling your appointment at the last minute can in no way be described as a pleasant feeling. But when you’ve traveled to a certain state for said meetup with the goal of experiencing an all-state party within a certain amount of time, the logistical side of things becomes very important.

“I just drove six hours to this state or this city,” Wurnig says. “I’m in this hotel and I have a day to try to find a date.”

That’s not something Wurnig had to worry about with his date in Missouri. Richter devised a plan to take her on a tour of campus, stopping at the tallest tree in Missouri. Then they were going on a pub crawl in downtown Columbia. She wrote about that plan in an application on Wurnig’s website, and he selected her from Missouri’s pool of applicants.

Wurnig says seeing what the States have been half the fun, pointing to ziplining in New Hampshire. “I was like, man, what’s going to happen in New Hampshire?” he says.

Richter understands this aspect of the brand, saying she wanted to show off the Show-Me State.

“[I’m] showing her my life, like, normal,” Richter says. “But also, because we’re bouncing around in the different bars, I’ll be able to show him all of downtown Columbia and what it has to offer.”

They went on their date in late April, and while the YouTube episode won’t be available for some time, viewers can preview all 50 dates on other social media channels, including TikTok.