Enthusiast Big Nut: ‘Just a fan’
Published: Friday, September 30, 2011
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
Most fans don't ever reach the status of being nationally known for being just that — a fan.
Jon Peters found a way to take his Buckeye pride a step farther to stand out. He's the one you see at Ohio State football games with his face painted half scarlet, half gray, wearing a large assortment of Buckeye memorabilia and wearing a jersey with the words "Big Nut."
Peters has been shown many times before TV commercial breaks on Big Ten Network and ESPN, and was even mentioned during Jon Gruden's "QB camp with Terrelle Pryor."
"I don't feel like I'm special, just a fan," Peters said. "The only thing that would possibly make me a bigger Buckeye fan would be if I had a bigger waistline."
His attendance at home and away games doesn't stem from the fact that he graduated from OSU as one might think. He actually attended Terra Community College in his hometown of Fremont, Ohio.
"I guess I'll go to my Buckeye grave disappointed in the fact that I never had the chance to get a diploma from The Ohio State University," Peters said.
Peters started the "Big Nut" era in 1995 in a competition at a local high school fundraiser in Fremont for the Ohio State vs. Michigan game. Originally for a best dressed contest, he first decked himself out in Buckeye gear to beat the older women, he said. He decided that painting his entire face might help him win.
People didn't start noticing "Big Nut" until the 2003 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Arizona, where OSU won the 2002 BCS National Championship Game. Peters was at a pep rally the day before when his wife, Terese Peters, painted his face
Jon Peters said people started coming up to him and asking to take pictures with their groups.
"I didn't know why, (but) we did it (anyway)," he said.
The camera crew got a shot of "Big Nut" that ended up being both on TV and on the national championship game DVD, he said. He has been dressing up for all home games and as many away games as possible since.
Jon Peters said despite recent rumors he has heard, he pays for all his tickets and sits in his assigned seat. This is his second year receiving tickets through the Buckeye Club and his fifth year with season tickets. For three years he received tickets through a personal friend, he said.
He said he works out a deal with "a guy he knows" when he gets tickets in the south stands at football games, which he prefers because "the students are a lot more active." He said his often-front-row seat isn't because of wanting TV time, but rather so he can sit when he wants but can still see the game. Jon Peters has now had a double knee replacement.
Tim Collins, a third-year in psychology and Block "O" president, said he sees Peters as an icon for his dedication to be at both home and away football games.
"Especially at away games, he provides a sense of comfort and you think, ‘The Buckeye nation is here and we're ready to support,'" Collins said.
Jon Peters hasn't always been received well by opposing fans. He recalled an instance at an away game at Penn State where an opposing fan tackled him.
"I heard somebody yelling ‘hut-hut' (as I walked toward the stadium)," Jon Peters said. "I looked over and there was a kid in the three-point-stance and he just takes off running."
Peters does attend basketball games but isn't as visible as at football games. Terese Peters said with a lot of games being during the week it's hard to attend all the games. The couple lives two hours away and driving in the winter weather isn't always easy.
Living two hours away means it will take "Big Nut" four hours to be completely dressed, painted and in Columbus.
In addition to his attire, Jon Peters has other Buckeye-inspired items including a Block "O"-engraved dental crown and a gold pants necklace, traditionally given to OSU football players for beating Michigan.
He declined to say who had given him the gold pants necklace, only saying that they were "from a former, not current, player."
DeVier Posey, Ohio State wide receiver, said that Jon Peters is "one of those fans you wish were everywhere."
"Big Nut" has partnered with The Ohio State University Alumni Association for fundraisers and has even started his own Big Nut Scholarship Foundation for a senior in Fremont who will attend Ohio State.