At the start of this semester, a friend texted them to tell them that their photo was featured on Sakai.
“We freaked out,” he said.
Evidently, Sakai models have become a source of UNC bucket-list inspiration for some students.
“It’s weird because there are a lot of girls who have actually made it their goal to get pictures with both of the guys on Sakai,” he said. “Which, you would think that no one ever thinks about that because before my face was on the front, I never even glanced at the photo.”
Toohey’s friends said they appreciate his celebrity status.
“I think the fame has gone to his head a little bit,” first-year Addi Oliver said. “I mean, he already has a big head to begin with.”
But senior Brian Riefler, said Toohey has remembered the little people.
“Harrison and I were already friends before his celebrity status, so I feel like our friendship hasn’t changed,” he said. “He’s very humble about it — but it’s definitely brought a lot of attention.”
The status that comes with hanging out with a Sakai model has its perks.
“It feels great, honestly,” Oliver said. “Every time I walk around campus with him I feel twice as cool.”
Many students are also familiar with Toohey’s co-star, the Sakai cat, who is photoshopped in most Sakai photos.
Toohey said he’s a fan of the Sakai cat, which he says is rightfully called the Sakaiger.
“There’s actually, like, a history of the Sakaiger online,” he said. “It talks about, like, basically how it's been hidden in different school’s webpages for years. And there’s not just one, there are, like, ancestors of the Sakaiger. So I think it’s hysterical.”
For Toohey, being on Sakai’s front page has added something to his time at UNC.
“I feel like it’s a bucket list to get on, like, the Sakai page for UNC students,” he said.