‘Reporter Wears Grape Costume to Defend Boy Suspended for Banana Suit’

An August 3 2022 post to Reddit (featured on r/all) featured a meme about a reporter wearing a “grape costume” as he interviewed a boy who had been suspended from school for wearing a “banana suit”:

In what appeared to be a screenshot from Tumblr, a photograph showed a man in a grape suit holding a microphone for a boy in a banana suit. Text under the image read:

Fact Check

Claim: A reporter donned a grape costume to interview a boy suspended for wearing a banana suit at a school football game.

Description: A meme on Reddit featured a scenario where a reporter dressed up in a grape costume to interview a boy who had been suspended from school for wearing a banana costume.


Rating Explanation: The event described in the Reddit meme indeed happened. Pat Collins, a reporter from WRC-TV, wore a grape costume while interviewing Bryan Thompson, a boy who was suspended for running onto a school football field in a banana suit in 2011. The interview also gained substantial popularity, causing a reunion of Collins and Thompson by WRC-TV in 2021.

Reporter wears grape costume to defend boy suspended for banana suit

| Real recognizes real.

Because the submission was image based, no news articles or related links were attached to the original post. Commenters on the post identified the reporter in a grape suit as “Pat Collins,” describing him as “genuinely one of the greatest local reporters of all time” and an “absolute legend.”

A search for the grape suit related interview primarily returned additional memes, with few surviving news stories documenting the incident. On November 8 2011, Vulture.com published the very brief “See a Reporter Wear a Grape Suit Like a Pro,” reporting that Collins “dressed up like a bunch of grapes to nail a story about a kid who dressed up like a banana”; the primary focus of the short piece was a video unavailable in 2022.

A separate November 8 2011 item from since-defunct site Racked.com contributed another concise item, “NBC’s Pat Collins Wears a Grape Costume While Interviewing the Student Who Got in Trouble for Wearing a Banana Costume.” It too primarily featured a video clip that was no longer functional.

The few surviving references to the grape costume incident were originally published in November 2011. Restricting search to content published prior to August 2012 did not return any further news results about the viral interview.

Both sites linked above embedded video clips that were not available to view in August 2022. However, an October 4 2011 YouTube video (“NBC station WRC, Pat Collins Wears Grape Costume to Interview Student Suspended For Banana Costume”) remained available, and — just as the description for the image said — Collins was interviewing a boy named Bryan Thompson, who had been suspended for wearing a banana suit to a football game.

Its description read:

Washington, DC stations have been [following] … the case of Bryan Thompson, a 14-year-old student at Colonial Forge High School who was suspended for running onto the field during a school football game — wearing a banana costume — earlier this month [in 2011].

Thompson was interviewed by WRC reporter Pat Collins this week [in 2011] (watch the video, above). Thompson wore the infamous banana suit, and Collins, not to be outdone, dressed like a grape, in a not-so-subtle attempt to make the point that Thompson was doing nothing wrong.

“It starts with a banana,” Collins said in his report. “Then all of a sudden you have an apple, and an orange, and then maybe a grape, and before you know it, you have fruit salad in the schools. We can’t have that.”

Students who protested Thompson’s 10-day suspension were given detention. Faced with an onslaught of criticism — from reports like this one, as well as advocacy groups like the ACLU, school principal Karen Spillman resigned on Wednesday [in 2011]. All the suspensions were lifted.

That video had a link to a September 23 2011 article reporting that the boy in the banana suit’s suspension had been lifted in the final five days of an initial ten-day suspension:

The final five days of Banana Man Bryan Thompson’s 10-day suspension have been suspended.

The 14-year-old, who got in trouble for donning a banana costume and sprinting across the football field during Colonial Forge High School’s game [in September 2011], will return to school [in September 2011] and continue to attend class as long as he behaves.

If Colonial Forge’s 7:30 p.m. home game isn’t rained out, neither Bryan nor Banana Man will attend, but after that, it’s time served for Bryan, and retirement for Banana Man.

In June 2021, WRC-TV (NBC Washington)’s YouTube channel featured a ten-year retrospective clip featuring both Thompson and Collins. The outlet also covered the reunion in print, reporting that Thompson had adopted the name “Leon Knight” to pursue a music career, and adding:

Ten years ago [in September 2021] News4’s Pat Collins dressed up as grapes to rescue 14-year-old Bryan Thompson from a school suspension after he ran across the football field at half time in a banana costume.

“In 48 years I have been a reporter on TV, I have done thousands of stories, but there is one story that keeps hanging around,” Collins said.

The video of Collins in a grapes suit interviewing Thompson, known as Banana Man, can be found on YouTube with more than 650,000 views.

A popular August 2022 Reddit post featured a meme about a reporter who dressed up in a grape costume to interview a boy who was suspended for wearing a banana costume. The interview was real and accurately described, and it aired in September 2011. Due to its enduring popularity, WRC-TV reunited the reporter (Pat Collins) and the boy (Bryan Thompson) in June 2021 for an update.