A woman’s weird thrift store T-shirt find sparked an international social media hunt to locate the man whose face was featured on the bizarre item of clothing.
Vancouver woman Bev Davies stumbled upon the shirt featuring a smiling man with red hair and glasses at a Salvation Army store on Friday, May 7 (local time).
Posting the image to a Facebook group, she posed a simple question.
“It was only $3.99 but did not come home with me,” she wrote.
“Who is it I wonder?”
Close to 5000 comments and 12,000 reactions followed, with internet users urging Bev to go back and purchase the T-shirt.
Suggestions as to the man’s identity came in hot from captivated netizens. His thin, bearded face looked familiar to many.
Respondents wondered if it was someone famous or even semi-famous. YouTube personalities including historian Simon Whistler and vintage game reviewer Ian Brutalmoose were suggested, while another person thought it was 1970s Aussie comedian Ugly Dave Gray.
More than one man thought it may have been them.
West Virginian man sees shirt with his face on it in Canada
Nearly 7,000 kilometres away, West Virginian Zach Dodge first became aware of the T-shirt with his face on it after a friend tagged him in the picture.
“When my wife and I first looked at the picture, we both started freaking out and laughing and asking each other if we had made the shirt,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“She was cracking up and said: Did you make a shirt of yourself?
“I’m like: No, did you make a shirt of me?
“She was like: No, I’ve thought about it, but no."
Staring at the shirt, he and his wife began to notice subtle differences in the face, but also many similarities.
The man on the shirt wasn't him, but Zach wasn't dissuaded; he immediately took a selfie in the bathroom and posted it in the comments saying he “needed the shirt”.
“(My post) just instantly blew up. My notifications were non-stop, my battery drained from 70 per cent down to 10 per cent,” he said.
“There were constant reactions to it, and people commenting and saying they agreed and it looked like me.”
“Some people thought it was me. They were saying: wait a minute, that’s not you?"
Zach was determined to acquire the shirt, asking someone to please buy it but when group members entered the store it was gone.
Doppelgänger is 'one in a trillion' find
The rise of the internet has resulted in users from around the world seeing more faces similar to their own than when we lived in smaller communities.
Flinders University lecturer Dr Teghan Lucas said it is quite common for humans to find doppelgängers because they tend to focus on major features like red hair, a beard, freckles or a wide nose.
However when scientists take measurements of the face, the chances of finding a match are “one in a trillion” when just looking at eight measurements.
“There is no such thing as true doppelgängers, but there are people that do look similar to each other when humans make the judgement,” she said.
“I’m trained in telling people apart, and that's something I do a lot in my forensic work when police come to me.
"They'll say, we've got pictures of someone robbing a bank, and we’ve got pictures of someone who we believe to be the one who robbed the bank. Can you compare the two?”
When Dr Lucas looks at faces she immediately picks differences because she is trained to look for details including small scars, wrinkles, moles and other indicators.
“I get a lot of media coming to me and they go, these two people look alike, everyone says so but I have the ability to go: No, they're not and here's why.”
Search for thrift-store shirt a success
Bev Davies, who found the shirt, said she hasn’t been shopping much recently, preferring to stay home because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was overwhelming the number of people that responded (to my post),” she said.
“So many people were responding it didn’t feel like it was my story anymore.”
Amongst the darkness of the pandemic, Bev was thrilled to see that her lighthearted picture was having such a positive effect on people.
The Weird (and Wonderful) Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared group she posted to has more than two million members, and many of them seem to share the same sense of humour.
“People were saying: this has made my day, this is so heartwarming, this is the best story,” Bev said.
Buoyed by the group’s response, Bev decided to return to the store the next morning to buy it.
“I walked up to where the shirts were and couldn’t find it,” she said.
“For something as loud as it was, it hid itself very successfully amongst the other clothing to find it.
“I had to count one, two, three, four through the shirts one at a time until I found it.”
Mystery of man on T-shirt revealed
When Vancouver resident Conor Davis heard about Bev's online post he knew exactly where the shirt had come from.
They'd been worn by his friends as a joke on his fortieth birthday. They'd made him a special shirt with just one face that simply read "I'm Conor".
"When I saw my face was on a shirt I was a little surprised, yet flattered and thought it was really touching that a group of my friends would do something like that for me," he told Yahoo News Australia.
During the festivities, he vaguely remembers someone saying it would be funny to donate their shirt to a thrift store and have a random person find it.
On the night Bev's Facebook post went live, multiple friends, including his ex-wife tagged Conor in her photo.
"By then there were so many comments on it as well as the pic of Zach, which looked just like me," he said.
"I decided to chime in and that got people going."
Conor hopes to meet Bev and Zach one day
It wasn't the first time Conor had been told he had a doppelgänger, in fact people have often told him he looks like Beatles star John Lennon.
"I feel great that people will often feel at ease around me if they think I remind them of someone they know," he said.
"(This) allows me to engage them in an easy manner and make them feel comfortable."
On his own Facebook page, Conor celebrated the delight everyone was sharing about the shirt.
“So this happened today..." he wrote.
“I have now been discussed around the world.
"Knew it would happen one day… wasn’t sure that this would be how.”
People began suggesting Conor capitalise on the interest in his face and start monetising the shirts, but that’s not what happened.
Instead, after Bev bought the shirt at the thrift store, she sent it to Zach.
Zach asked Bev and Conor for their clothing sizes and sent them both shirts with his face on them in the style of the original.
The shirts arrived this week and everyone was keen to show them off to the legion of Facebook followers around the world, garnering over 60,000 combined reactions.
Conor has joked that he plans to donate the shirt with Zach's face on it to a thrift store one day in hopes it will trigger a new internet adventure.
Someday, when the pandemic is under control and the border between Canada and the United States opens up again, Zach plans to travel to Vancouver so he can meet up with Conor and Bev.
"So my heart is full. I am overwhelmed with joy due to this whole crazy ride," Conor said.
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