Northwestern does not have a lot of fans. That is to be expected when you have a private school with 8,000 undergrads that's not a big part of the region's sporting culture. In fact, when putting together an article on Facebook fans, I found that Northwestern has fewer Facebook fans than any other Power Five school. Fewer than Wake Forest, somehow!
That said, the NU administration has said its goal is to turn non-alumni into NU fans, particularly around Chicago and the North Shore. It seems to be working, as season ticket sales have risen, but the Wildcats seem to be particularly popular in another area: turning famous people who have no business being Northwestern fans into (at least sort of) Northwestern fans.
Northwestern leads the country in "why the hell is that famous person wearing that college's shirt" pictures.— Inside NU (@insidenu) June 14, 2015
I'm sure part of the reason for this is that Northwestern marketing will never pass up an opportunity to give a famous person a shirt, even when that person definitely does not want it. I mean, how much more excited is Pat Fitzgerald than Kenny Chesney in this picture?
Either way, there are lots of famous people who are at least vaguely aware that Northwestern sports exist, despite having no real connection to the university, whatsoever. Let's run down the list.
Ariana Grande, pop star
EXPLAIN: pic.twitter.com/jk0MwzYLgj— Maura Brannigan (@maura_brannigan) May 7, 2015
Rumor has it that Ariana Grande has a good friend at Northwestern, and apparently she spent a night at my old stomping ground, PARC. She Instagramed a photo at NU awhile back while visiting said friend, and apparently she now wears a Northwestern sweatshirt.
Snoop Dogg, rapper
Here is Snoop Dogg in a Northwestern jersey, with John Shurna creeping in the background.
That would be pretty cool, but here is Snoop Dogg wearing an Illinois jersey.
THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS, SNOOP DOGG. But we'll allow it.
Kobe Bryant, basketball player
Okay, there is no photographic evidence of Kobe Bryant wearing a Northwestern jersey, but he did tell NU Sports that he thinks Chris Collins is a great coach. Therefore, he would probably cheer for Northwestern over most college teams.
Kobe Bryant--Los Angeles Lakers/Member of 2012 USA Basketball Olympics team
"Chris has a brilliant basketball mind and is a great communicator. I'm sure he'll do a great job at Northwestern, and I wish him the best of luck."
Kenny Chesney, country singer
As mentioned above, there is absolutely no way Kenny Chesney wanted to take this picture or wanted this jersey. That's probably because he is a fan of 30 other teams. That's okay, because as an avid country fan, I can say that Kenny Chesney is only popular among middle-aged men. But lots of middle-aged men love Northwestern, so we'll let them pretend.
Barack Obama, POTUS
No, it's not a jersey, but it's pretty clear that President Barack Obama is a huge Northwestern fan. He's from Chicago, he came here to talk a bunch and he took time out of his schedule to say "Go Cats" in a video.
Bill Simmons, sports writer/talker
Bill Simmons is friends with Doug Collins, so there's at least some connection here, but Simmons told Jalen Rose that he wore a Northwestern jogging suit "all Christmas week." True fan. (Go to 21:03).
T-Pain appears to be a big Northwestern basketball fan, and he showed off that fandom at A&O this year. And the guy behind him has a pretty sick NU hat on, too.
Bobby Flay, celebrity chef
Bobby Flay *was* a Northwestern fan, since his wife, Stephanie March, went to NU. However, after Flay had an affair and the marriage ended, he might not be a Wildcats fan anymore.
Justise Winslow, basketball player
Justice Winslow, Northwestern fan. pic.twitter.com/ScECXYbrcB— Inside NU (@insidenu) June 14, 2015
Justise Winslow isn't really famous yet, but he might be soon, and here he is wearing a Northwestern shirt, despite having attended Duke.
Jimmy Butler, basketball player
Headed to this Northwestern Football! Football season is a good season!— Jimmy Butler (@JimmyButler) September 14, 2013
Jimmy Butler appears to legitimately enjoy Northwestern football. I have absolutely no idea why he randomly decided to spend one of his September weekends at Northwestern vs. Western Michigan, but he did.
Kanye West, rapper
FORGOT ABOUT THIS SOMEHOW!
We might have missed some other true Northwestern fans. Please let us know if we did.