“I’m the Candyman. I’ve been giving candy out at Mississippi State games for 22 years. Two years ago, the baseball team was getting stomped by Ole Miss, and we started the Power of the Fireball rally with Fireball candy. We came back and won. The Power of the Fireball continued this season, and I gave out over 120 pounds of Fireball candy. That doesn’t count the three cases of Fireball shots. We just won our first National Championship, so the Power of the Fireball must have worked. Lord knows how much candy I’ve given out over 22 years. I pass it out at football games, too. I spend about $2000 a year on candy, but being the Candyman gives me happiness and stories.
Candyman started in 1998. We went to Texas for a super-regional and met some nice Aggie fans who took care of us that weekend. The next year, they came for games in Starkville and brought three bags of candy. They told me to pass out the candy, but I thought that was weird. They kept after me. Finally, I stood up and asked, ‘Does anybody want any candy?’ People started hollering for candy, even from the skyboxes. It kept going from there. I was careful and just gave candy to the parents and kids that I knew. Then it circulated that it was okay to take candy from the Candyman. I give out Tootsie Rolls, Dum-Dums, butterscotch and Jolly Ranchers—things that can’t melt. I can’t believe I’ve been giving candy out this long.
Candyman became a way to meet people. I went to State in the 70’s. I wanted to be a cheerleader, but I was too introverted. I wouldn’t look you in the eyes, but I could tell you what kind of shoes you were wearing. I became more outgoing as Candyman and started leading cheers in the stands. Everyone wants to stand up and cheer, but they don’t want to be the first one to do it. If you get candy from me, you have to stand up and holler.
When Rick Stansberry was the basketball coach, the students would camp out all night before big games. I camped out with the students to spend time with them. About 3 in the morning we’d go Creepy Crawling. If you once played soccer, we would creepy crawl onto the soccer field and let you kick a goal. If you once played baseball, but never stepped onto the field at Dudy Noble, we went there. I wanted the kids to have fun and live a dream, but we were always respectful. Sometimes we went into classrooms and write on the blackboard ‘Candyman was here.’
I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. I started out in accounting and worked for the state for 26 years. I was with the highway patrol the last 15 years, but I wasn’t a trooper. They wouldn’t give me a gun. I learned that $100,000 from a drug deal will fit inside a cereal box. I also learned that you can hide $3 million in an 18-Wheeler full of cabbage. The drugs were gone, but the money was wrapped in each head of cabbage. The troopers took the produce apart and we counted out the cash. It was an old 18- Wheeler, but there was a little cut out in the back with brand-new bolts. That gave it away.
I tell kids to get off their phones and don’t take themselves so seriously. Go out and experience life and meet new people. Everybody has a story.”