A Latin teacher at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., came up with the idea for “sharknado” more than two years ago for the Catholic high school’s lacrosse team, complete with logo. He and his buddy put the sharknado on T-shirts, hats and koozies and sold them to friends and family.
“The thought process was that sharks and tornadoes are two of the most feared things in the universe,” said Mike Norton, founder of MRC Group, a technology consulting and recruiting firm in McLean, Va. Norton worked on the sharknado project with Georgetown Prep instructor Mike Kubik, head coach for varsity wrestling and assistant coach for varsity lacrosse.
That was well before Syfy was brewing made-for-TV pic “Sharknado,” which swirled into a cult hit thanks to a small but powerful social media storm that accompanied its July 11 airing. The NBCUniversal cabler has since greenlit a sequel to be set in Gotham and invited Twitter users to submit ideas for a subtitle with the hashtag #Sharknado.
There doesn’t appear to be any controversy over who has dibs on the Twitter-friendly “sharknado” portmanteau. Norton registered the domain name “sharknado.com” in May 2011, but he never launched a website at the address and says he’s not trying to make a buck by flipping the domain name. Norton and Kubik were surprised when they heard about the Syfy movie earlier this year.
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Asked for comment, Syfy said it’s not interested in obtaining the sharknado.com domain name. Meanwhile, neither the cabler nor anyone else has registered the term “Sharknado” with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Norton said he knew that he and Kubik had come up with “a very, very catchy name,” but he’s content for the original sharknado to remain a hobby. “It was a fun side project,” he said. “Parents and kids love the concept.”