The man who convinced more than 1 million people to “storm Area 51” in search of its alien secrets has emerged from an undisclosed location — i.e. his home in Bakersfield, Calif. — to explain how a simple “joke” spiralled out of control.
Matty Roberts says he created the event “Storm Area 51 — They can’t stop all of us” after listening to two alien enthusiasts on Joe Rogan’s podcast in June. The event has gone viral over the last three weeks, with more than 1.7 million people now pledging to attend.
The tongue-in-cheek event proposes running headlong into Area 51 to avoid bullet fire and liberate the “aliens” inside.
“It started out just from a pure stroke of imagination,” Roberts told KTNV in Las Vegas. “It’s funny.”
The event has a become a pop-culture phenomenon and won support from several celebrities, including Keanu Reeves and Chuck Norris.
Facebook and Twitter are filled with jokes about the “battle plan” and memes about what people will do with their own personal alien after the raid.
Beer brand Bud Light has even tried to turn the event into a marketing opportunity. The company has promised free beer to any alien that makes it out of Area 51.
Roberts says the response has been largely tongue-in-cheek, but he claims he’s also received direct messages from people who are completely serious about breaching the top-secret government facility.
“I’m just like, ‘Oh my God, bud,'” he said.
The U.S. Air Force has said it “stands ready” to defend the facility from any threat.
Roberts has no plans to actually storm Area 51. Instead, he’s hoping to put together a fun event for everyone who shows up in the tiny town of Rachel, Nev., outside the restricted government area.
WATCH: Pilot claims UFO spotted while flying over Arizona
Locals in the area are bracing for a massive influx of people for the event, which is still scheduled for Sept. 20.
“It’s tapped into something big,” George Harris, owner of the Alien Research Center, told KLAS News.
“The cause is the government,” he added. “They’re so secretive and people want to know what’s going on up there.”
Connie West, who owns an alien-themed inn in Rachel, says she’s ready to host the alien-hunters — so long as they obey the law and don’t actually try to breach Area 51.
“Bring it,” she told KLAS. “We’ll do our best.”