There are usually some surprises in the annual National Football League draft, at least from a sports perspective: for the players being drafted, their friends and families, and for fans of the 32 teams who are all hoping their team will be the one to pick football’s next star player.
But in Thursday’s NFL Draft, the biggest surprise didn’t come in the draft room.
Instead, it came on social media, after a series of bizarre and incriminating posts by the draft’s top prospect, Laremy Tunsil, ended up costing him millions of dollars and could lead to an investigation of his alma matter – all in a matter of a few hours.
Here’s how it went down.
7:00 PM: One hour until the draft begins. At 6’5, weighing 310 lbs, 21-year-old University of Mississippi offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil is widely considered to be the top prospect in the draft. Draft pundits predict he will go in the draft’s top three picks.
7:47 PM: A video is posted to Tunsil’s Twitter account showing him appearing to smoke what looks like a gas mask bong. It is deleted a few minutes later.
8:00 PM: The 2016 NFL Entry draft gets underway.
8:20 PM: With the first pick in the draft, the L.A. Rams select quarterback Jared Goff, as some had predicted. A short time later, the Philadelphia Eagles draft another quarterback, Carson Wentz, at #2. Prior to the draft, Tunsil is projected as the top pick once these quarterbacks are off the board.
8:33 PM: With the #3 pick, the San Diego Chargers selected defensive tackle Joey Bosa, and Tunsil’s draft day slide commences.
8:53 PM: The first offensive tackle, Ronnie Stanley, is taken at pick #6 by the Baltimore Ravens. Tunsil continues to sit.
9:41 PM: A bizarre statement, allegedly from Tunsil’s agent Jimmy Sexton, makes the rounds on social media. In it, Sexton claims Tunsil’s choice of gas mask bong was intended to “shield his teammates from the emissions of hazardous and potentially intoxicating fumes” and lays blame for the incident on Silicon Valley’s “refusal to reign in open source hacking.”
The post is later revealed to be a fake.
9:45 PM: The Miami Dolphins halt Tunsil’s draft day slide and select him at #13 overall. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said the team had been aware of the video’s existence well before the draft, and said it was two years old.
Because of the NFL’s rookie wage scale, what pick you’re drafted at plays a huge role in how much you’re capable of earning in your first contract. Had Tunsil been selected #1 overall, he would have been offered a contract worth $28.65 million over four years. His current deal, as the number 13 overall pick, has him making $12.76 million over that same time span.
With a single tweet, Tunsil (or whoever hacked his account) may have lost over $16 million.
10:00 PM: Tunsil tells the Associated Press that he wasn’t behind the video on his Twitter account.
“Somebody hacked my account, man,” Tunsil said. “You know I made that mistake several years ago. Somehow, somebody got in my photos and hacked my Twitter account and somebody hacked my Instagram account, so it’s crazy. I can’t control that, man. I can control what I control.”
10:10 PM: While he was addressing the media as the newest member of the Miami Dolphins, an image was posted to Tunsil’s Instagram account showing what appeared to be text conversations between him and a member of his old coaching staff at the University of Mississippi.
In these conversations, Tunsil is seen asking for money to help cover his rent and pay his bills, a request the staffer seemingly grants – a violation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules governing amateur athletes, who are forbidden from being paid or compensated monetarily (beyond the parameters of a scholarship) during their university career.
10:26 PM: When asked about the Instagram post and its allegations by a reporter in his press conference, Tunsil admits they are true.
“I’d have to say yeah,” Tunsil replied when a reporter asked him about the Instagram post, prompting a panicked assistant to his agent to hastily call off the press conference.
WATCH: Laremy Tunsil’s press conference goes off the rails
Friday morning: The University of Mississippi acknowledged that an investigation into the school is likely following the incriminating Instagram post – and Tunsil’s acknowledgement of its veracity.
The university said in a statement it is “aware of the reports from the NFL Draft regarding Laremy Tunsil and potential NCAA violations during his time at Ole Miss” and “will aggressively investigate and fully co-operate with the NCAA and the South Eastern Conference (SEC).”