From Rat To Riches: The Legend Of Boris The Chinchilla
Right now, a small gray rodent named Boris is sitting in a dark cage in St. Louis in near silence, probably chewing on some timothy hay in his little hut and most certainly shitting everywhere like he is known to do. The room is quiet for most of the day while he hangs out and hops around in between chinchilla naps. This scene may seem like average life of a rodent, but this isn’t any ordinary Rat, this is a Magic Rat that pulled off a miracle. His tale is one of many turns and fortuitous bounces. From a sitting in a plastic ball on the bottom shelf of a pet store in the middle of New York, to being hailed as a hero by the populace of an entire city, this is the story of Boris The Chinchilla.
It all started back on January 27th 2017. It was a Friday afternoon on my second week at Barstool after moving across the country to New York from St. Louis to start a new life and career. I had my first guests coming to the office. Fresh off of pitching myself as the “Outdoors guy”, I wanted to make content in any way possible and had an idea for a video we could do in the office called “Pet Potential” that we could do with guests who came through where I’d get unusual animals and we’d grade whether they had “pet potential”. I had just rented a Wallaby for my interview a month earlier so I thought I’d just rent an animal like that every time I was going to do one of these videos. In retrospect I was clearly overestimating how hard it would be to get Tigers and Lions on a few days notice, but that’s neither here nor there. On this Friday, I had some friends from the Wisconsin Hockey Team in town and a few of them were on their way to playing in the NHL which made them more than qualified to be video guests at that point in my 2 week old time at Barstool.
They were coming around 3-4 PM and it was about 2:15. I had no Tiger, no Lion, or not even as much as a goddamn Iguana. I took Robbie Fox, who was a random intern at the time, and we went in search of any pet store that sold live animals that I could use for this video and then return afterwards. I needed SOMETHING to try the idea out, whether it was just a snake or spider or anything that was outside the realm of a dog or cat.
When we got to the pet store, unsurprisingly there weren’t too many options. Birds, rabbits, and then… a chinchilla. The name was funny and I thought it would be unusual enough to work for the video. I asked the pet store guys if I could return him in about an hour and they said their policy was no returns. I asked if I paid for him and brought him back in an hour if that was OK and they said it was alright. I was essentially renting him for 170 bucks for an hour to make this video happen. Done deal.
We went back to do the video which was fine, and then my friends left… and then there was this Chinchilla just sitting in a cardboard box.
I called and the Pet Store was open for about another hour and a half, I figured I’d play with the little dude for a little bit since he was already here and then take him back right before they closed. Then when it came time to go and return him I thought… I might as well keep him for the weekend, when the hell am I going to have a Chinchilla to play with ever again?
Turns out we ended up bonding pretty quickly during those two days.
When Monday came around and people filtered in to work all asking the same question “what is that?” and then subsequently saying that it might be funny to have an “office Chinchilla”, my brain started shifting. Well at some point during that week I realized enough was enough and walked to PetSmart and just got a cage, dust bath, water, and some new food. I’d keep him in the office for a little bit and then find him a home somewhere.
Over the next couple months he did a little bit of everything.
From acting with Pardon My Take,
To some more acting in This Is Barstool,
To meeting just about every celebrity that came in.
Around September, after incessant bitching from Nate and others in the office claiming that Boris smelled (even though he or his poop doesn’t have any odor), I decided to take him to my apartment one Friday night to end the drama and get him in a place he was loved.
I let Boris loose in my apartment that Friday night and unknowingly turned the page on a new chapter. After he started living with me at home instead of the office, me and Boris really started to become close friends. Moving from St. Louis to New York resulted in almost all of my friends being co-workers at Barstool and a lot of alone time while living by myself. He may be a rat, but having another heartbeat in the apartment really helps. I let him run around at all times while he lived there. Many times every night I would feel his little feet gingerly walking up my side and onto my face. Sometimes he would sit there, sometimes he was just passing through, but it didn’t matter, he was my little dude.
There were no shortage of “situations” we got ourselves into…
We lived together like any room mates. Boris had the same rights as me and some would even say that I was living in HIS apartment. He shit everywhere, chewed up every single cord/box/clothing item he could get his hands on and I absolutely loved it. Its hard to describe, maybe people with kids can relate, but when I’d get home and realize he’d chewed through a $100+ Macbook charger, I would have a lot of trouble getting mad at him. Yes it was frustrating but he’s so goddamn cute and he was just doing what rats do!
From this point until Spring 2019, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama or change. When I leave in the morning I’d give him a treat and tell him I’d see him later. Before bed I’d hang out with him and give him some timothy hay, but other than escaping during one of his dust baths, it was mostly business as usual.
One time he escaped and got his head stuck in his dried strawberries while eating as many as he possibly could.
He tried his hand at a pizza review
And was basically just going through the day to day actions of a Chinchilla life.
It all changed a few months ago. On April 10th of this year, I was watching the first Blues game of the postseason against the Winnipeg Jets. Part of our job here at Barstool is to create as much content as possible surrounding the stuff we are interested in or “cover”. When the Blues entered the third period down 1-0, I went on Periscope and Instagram Live to do a live reaction video to whatever was going to happen in the third period. Sure enough, the Big Rig found Tyler Bozak for a goal with a few minutes left in what was just the beginning of a magic spring for this Blues team.
When the game went final, I saw people in the livestream comments saying “Play Gloria!” and turned it on to just act like an idiot and dance around. Boris’s cage is 2 feet away from the couch where I was watching the game. I grabbed him and just started dancing around. After I ended the live I figured I’d do a separate video to put on Twitter because those generally get way more viewers than any livestream.
For whatever reason, people seemed to think it was odd/funny/somehow interesting, so I just started doing them after every game. The Blues kept winning, and me and Boris kept dancing…
And on and on.
Every step the Blues got closer, the feeling in the air started building more and more. I was having DANGEROUS visions of them “really doing it” but didn’t want to jinx anything. As a Blues fan, you know how many times we’ve thought the same thing over 50 years, why would this year be any different? In my mind I knew, we had a magic rat on our side and never felt anything but full faith in the fact that the dream was going to come to life.
Throughout the entire playoffs, anytime someone in St. Louis asked where Boris was I had been telling them, “If they make the Final, I will bring him to St. Louis mark my words”, I knew there was no way he wasn’t making his first trip to STL. To be honest, I didn’t even care at all because if I was going to be in that position I would have been so happy anyways that I’d figure it out. Well sure enough, after Game 6 vs. the Sharks I realized the dream was going to become a reality.
Since the airlines discriminate against rodents flying in the cabin and I would NEVER put him underneath in the luggage compartment, there was only one way it was happening. I drove him down from New York to St. Louis during Memorial Day Weekend, set him up with a spacious cage in a dark, cool, quiet area of my parent’s house and let him charge up for battle. When I came back from Boston with the series at 1-1, it was time to bring him into Game 3. I’d gotten a doctor’s note from a Stoolie’s mom a few weeks before and I’d been told that you could bring “Emotional Support Animals” into Enterprise from some unnamed sources with the Blues and that they’d make sure he would get in no matter what, so I was pretty confident I’d make it work.
Turns out it wasn’t a problem at all. When it came time to go into the game, I put his carrier on the table like any other purse or bag and walked through the metal detector. They asked what was in the bag and I said “My Chinchilla”, they looked at me kind of perplexed and said “OK”. The Rat was in the building.
Game 3 was AWFUL and one of the most deflating games I’ve ever been to after the amount of hype involved beforehand and Boris never left his carrier.
In the off day between games, the Magic Rat paid a visit to his friend the Big Rig’s house to try and conjure up some mojo. “Rat Maroon” ended up being very effective at making sure things were on the right path.
Game 4 was a whole different story. First things first, Boris has his first Simba moment at Ballpark Village during our live Barstool Radio show.
Goddamn that still brings a tear to my eye. After all the hoopla that afternoon, the Magic Rat got into the game despite Dave’s best attempts to find out “If that thing bites” from the security guards.
And when it came time to find out the Blues fate, it could not have gone much more opposite than Game 3. When Brayden Schenn cashed in the empty net with over a minute left…
I knew there was only one thing left to do… GET THE RAT!!! I ran down the stairs as fast as possible to the office where Boris was in during the game. I got him out and brought him out to the standing room only area with 12 seconds left and saw one of my family friends. I gave him my phone and asked if he could just point it at me for a minute while everyone was going crazy. What happened next you could have never drawn up. Midway through a #HeavyFlop performance, I looked up and saw the Golden Brett just a few rows up from where we were. I ran up the stairs and just thought it would be funny to dance in from of a guy with a statue outside to make the video even more unique. Well you couldn’t really even draw up what happened next…
The video went viral with me and Boris appearing on CNN and a ton of other random outlets.
The next few days, Boris was getting more attention than he ever had in his little rat life. The Blues won Game 5 and from there we waited with anticipation to see if Boris would be able to do the impossible and win a Stanley Cup for the city of St. Louis. He got a police escort down to Game 6 courtesy of Ryan Kelley aka The Home Loan Expert and went straight to the stage for a quick live TV hit.
From there it was into the arena once again for what we thought would be history. It didn’t happen on Sunday and at that point, everything Boris had built was in jeopardy on Wednesday night.
Game 7 was all that was left. Judgement day.
When it came down to it, there was nothing more left to do. Every single thing was on the line and thank you to the Hockey Gods… THE MAGIC RAT GOT IT DONE.
It was time to fulfill Boris’s destiny. I flew back to St. Louis the next day and saw my young son who was now a Stanley Cup Champion Chinchilla. Boris was waiting all day for the celebrations Thursday night, I set off with Boris and the location of the Cup. Soon enough, the prophecy was complete…
Boris and some friends
Big Daddy Vladi and Boris
Boris in the cup
He even oversaw the first Stanley Cup Pizza Review in history
After the events that transpired with Boris in the Cup, it seemed like there was nowhere left to go on the scale of unreal moments. How could it get any better than this? A lot of people had asked me if Boris was going to be in the parade and while I hoped so, I had no idea if it would really happen and didn’t want to get my hopes up. I threw up a last minute hail mary to temper expectations but potentially open the door for a miracle.
On Friday night with the Parade about 12 hours away, I got a DM from a guy saying that he may have way to get a wristband for the parade… COULD IT BE?
I took the Magic Rat downtown with no wristband or hope other than a DM on my Twitter account. I got dropped off near Enterprise hoping this wasn’t all a prank and sure enough, within minutes the Rat was at center ice of Enterprise sitting in the Stanley Cup, which he must have thought was his home at this point.
The power of the internet strikes again as my friend (who I am not sure if I am supposed to say who or not but am insanely thankful for) gave me a parade wristband and within 30 minutes of sitting in the car in traffic with no way of getting anywhere, me and Boris were on a parade float.
What happened next was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. The entire city of St. Louis had lined the streets and was going more apeshit than I’d ever seen humans go in my entire life. Every time I lifted Boris up like Simba, which may as well have been an understatement at this point, people would lose their mind. I felt like a cult leader. He REALLY IS A MAGIC RAT.
He checked in with his friend #16 once again
He was on Sportscenter
He was on the news
… AND THAT’S NOT ALL!
After the most fun thing of me and Boris’s entire lives, there was an enormous rally with a 6 figure amount of people in attendance at the end of the route. They asked me to go up on stage and present the Rat to St. Louis. I whispered in his ear “Everything the light touches is your kingdom”…
I can’t even describe how cool that shit was. “Uncomprehendable” as some allegedly unintelligent people might say.
After addressing the crowd, Boris visited some close friends backstage
It was the coolest day of all time. The Magic Rat had fulfilled every dream a rodent could ever imagine.
Now Boris will live like a King and do whatever he wants for as long as he wants. I’m talking Chinchilla girlfriends for him to hang out with, a giant ass cage, more treats and food than he’s ever seen, and as much unconditional love as he can take.
Who knows, there are even talks of cloning him.
No matter what happens from here on out, Boris is a living legend and maybe the most famous Chinchilla of all time. People are wearing shirts with his face on it across the country and making signs for the little dude.
Most importantly, his dad is more proud of him than you could ever imagine. He is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a child and I can only hope my eventual children will be as successful as this beautiful little rodent someday. Long Live Boris The Chinchilla.