Seconds after Wisconsin’s loss to Duke, as the camera swept through a sea of heartbroken fans, it paused on one fan dressed as “Po,” the red Teletubby whose face captured the emotions of Badgers across the country.
Tyler Hartmann, UW-Madison sophomore and now-famous “Sad Teletubby,” is an avid Badger sports fan. He and three friends dressed as the iconic children’s television foursome for the final two basketball games of the season.
“We wanted something that was fun and would bring some life to the student section,” Hartmann said. “We stumbled upon [the costumes] and thought, ‘why not?’”
Hartmann said wearing the costumes allowed him and his friends to “push the limits” with security guards, gaining them access to areas where fans weren’t allowed. The best part, however, was seeing other fans’ reactions to the costumes.
“We got a lot of opportunities to have conversations with people, chat with them and bring smiles to their faces,” Hartmann said.
The getup also had its challenges, according to Hartmann, who mistakenly wore jeans underneath his costume at the Final Four game against Kentucky.
“I was sweating buckets during the game, then at the end we did Jump Around, and I had to sit down after that for a while to cool down,” Hartmann said.
The Sad Teletubby’s face appeared on the Lucas Oil Stadium jumbotron, and began making rounds on social media immediately after, being made into memes and joining the ranks of Villanova’s “Crying Piccolo Player.”
“That moment sucked, to look around and see other fans crying or hiding their faces in their hands,” Hartmann said. “Seeing Duke celebrate and thinking, ‘screw Duke, this was supposed to be us.’”
Hartmann said while it’s okay for students to be sad about the outcome of the game, it is more important to focus on the incredible year the team had and look forward to next year.
He added he hopes to get season basketball tickets again next year, promising the Teletubbies have not yet made their last appearance.
“We’re not sure what’s in store for them, but as of now I don’t see why we wouldn’t take them out for another go-round,” Hartmann said.