Auburn University students get their ‘Hug from Taylor Swift’

AUBURN – Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Taylor Swift made a special appearance at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center today to surprise two students, who have been on a quest to receive a hug from her, and to give a mini-concert for those involved in the venture.

Auburn students Michael Wekall and Ryan Leander had the idea in January, and started a website,, featuring videos detailing their mission to get a hug from Swift.

A Facebook group dedicated to the project has more than 8,700 members.

On March 25, Swift posted a video of her own, issuing a challenge to Wekall and Leander to do a good deed, helping an elderly woman across the street, in order to earn their hugs.

The two sought assistance from members of their “A Hug from Taylor Swift” Facebook group and their Twitter followers and created a video montage of people from all over the world helping an elderly woman across the street. In addition, they planned their own walk across the street at Toomer’s Corner, which included Aubie and a group of students and friends who showed up to help with the task.

Swift was impressed with their response and issued a second challenge asking the two to creatively incorporate the number 13, her lucky number, into their good deeds.

Wekall and Leander posted their next video response, again incorporating videos from other fans, on April 13. The video featured things like 13 doughnuts for a friend, 13 people in a car, 13 places to get a hug from Taylor Swift and an aerial view of 13 cars parked in the shape of the number 13.

Swift responded once more with her own video, telling the two that she would be e-mailing them today at 12:30 p.m. with their third challenge.

Wekall posted on their website, Facebook group and Twitter pages asking followers in Auburn to meet at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center at 2 p.m. for karaoke to sing Swift’s “You Belong with Me.”

As Wekall, Leander and more than 350 Auburn students sang along, Swift appeared on the video screen, said she was watching the karaoke performance and really wished she could be there. Then she said she had an idea and turned to walk away from the camera.

First Aubie appeared onstage in a Taylor Swift T-shirt, then Swift followed wearing a T-shirt that read “A Hug for Ryan and Michael.” Swift’s band members, all wearing Auburn T-shirts, joined her for a short concert.

Contact: Carol Nelson, (334) 844-9999 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (

A video of Taylor Swift at the Auburn University Hotel

Click below for hi-res photos, and more can be found on the Auburn University Facebook page: