Sarah Newlon is no stranger to getting attacked on social media. It came with the turf when the former “Bachelor” contestant agreed last year to be on ABC’s reality spinoff “Bachelor Pad.”
But on Sunday night, the Charlotte resident made her first national TV appearance since getting booted from that show more than a year ago. And Twitter went more nuts over her than ever.
Here’s what happened: Before the top of the sixth inning of Game 4 of the World Series between St. Louis and Boston at Busch Stadium, Major League Baseball asked fans to observe a moment of silence while holding up placards with the name of a friend or family member affected by cancer as part of its Stand Up to Cancer campaign.
A Fox camera showed many somber folks – and among them, two who appeared to be having the time of their lives. The couple – Newlon, 29, and boyfriend Billy Christy, 34, who both work at EpiCentre nightclub Bubble – could be seen laughing. Newlon’s placard had the name “Molina” written on it.
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That’s Yadier Molina, five-time All-Star catcher for the Cardinals.
Newlon’s jacket was obscured by a man in front of her, but because Christy was wearing a Boston sweatshirt, some St. Louis faithful assumed she was an opposing fan wishing cancer upon Molina.
“I hope the #RedSox fan who held up Stand Up For Cancer with Molina’s name on it...accidentally has a beer dropped on their head,” one tweeted.
As it turns out, Newlon moved to Charlotte from St. Louis in January. Huge Cardinals junkie. She was wearing a Molina jersey. Her mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor who last went through chemotherapy earlier this year. Christy, meanwhile, is from Boston. Lifelong Red Sox fan. Raises money for prostate cancer research and awareness.
Well, so what the heck was happening in those box seats Sunday?
Newlon said she and Christy went out for drinks before the game. When they arrived at the stadium, she said a volunteer handed them a Stand Up to Cancer sign and asked, “Who’s your favorite player?” She said, “Molina.” The person wrote his name on the sign, Newlon said.
“I didn’t think anything of it. Just put it underneath my seat. We were laughing and having fun the entire time. Then all of a sudden Billy was like, ‘Oh, the Stand Up to Cancer thing’s going on ...’
During it, they realized they were on the Jumbotron, she said, and continued joking around. “I didn’t think it was a moment of solemn, this quiet moment. I thought everyone was holding up signs for their favorite player to stand up for cancer. ... Otherwise, I would have put my mom on there.”
Within minutes, she started getting tweets from strangers, “telling me to die – just the most horrible things I’ve ever heard.” By the time the game was over, sports website Deadspin had published a story calling her out for making “a mockery of the somber moment.” By Monday morning, journalists from coast to coast were calling.
But by Monday afternoon, Newlon had spoken to many of them, and was on the rebound.
“It makes me feel better to actually get to explain my side of the story,” she said by cellphone shortly before catching a flight back to Charlotte. “I’m not really so frustrated anymore. It’s just annoying that people take such small things and make this huge, huge deal out of it.”
Then Newlon added: “That’s not something anyone would ever make a joke about. There’s no joke there.”