We always knew former Winston-Salem Journal reporter Lee Sanderlin was going to make it big some day.
We didn't know it would be his intestinal fortitude that would make him go viral.
The sun is rising, it’s a new day and I’m never eating waffles again. That’s 9 waffles and 15 hours in this restaurant. S/o to the staff for letting me hang out on a slow night (I tipped them well don’t worry). This was horrible and I recommend no one ever do this. pic.twitter.com/PDGsuHYINf— Lee Sanderlin (@LeeOSanderlin) June 18, 2021
Sanderlin, 25, a High Point native and graduate of Appalachian State University, came in last in his fantasy football league, which meant he had to spend 24 hours in a Waffle House.
So Sanderlin, now a reporter at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, headed to a Waffle House in Brandon, Mississippi, arriving about 4 p.m. Thursday.
And from there he documented on Twitter his tour-de-Waffle House. Thousands of folks followed along, tweeting encouragement to a clearly struggling man.
For every waffle he ate, an hour came off his sentence. He ate nine, which meant he spent 15 hours watching hashbrowns be scattered, smothered and covered.
"This is one of those marathons not a sprint," Sanderlin tweeted very early.
He tweeted about the music.
"N.C. State's fight song just played in this Mississippi Waffle House — Wolfpack nation what are you doing here."
He tweeted about the struggle for waffle No. 6.
"Damn this 6th waffle is not going down."
And he tweeted a hard-learned lesson: Cold waffles are harder to eat. Way harder, like "4 million times harder." (Also, "Wagon Wheel" was playing, which he likened to purgatory.)
And he tweeted about the Waffle House workers, including one who told him about being shot in the chest.
About 14 hours in, he tweeted that Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" was playing, giving him the strength he needed to slowly put waffles No. 8 and No. 9 into his system.
Around 7 a.m., he walked out of his Waffle House, a free man with an upset tummy.
"The sun is rising, it's a new day and I'm never eating waffles again...," he tweeted.
In a brief interview, Sanderlin said Friday afternoon he had no idea he was going viral until a friend texted him.
"He said I was getting lots of retweets, and I was like, 'ah geez,'" he said. "I guess you feel like you can't let the internet down."
Sanderlin said he was "totally surprised the internet cares this much about what I did." The Washington Post and New York Times are writing about his exploits, and he's written a first-person account for The Clarion-Ledger.
He's glad that he brought some joy to masses.
But, he said, please don't try this at home — or at the Waffle House.