How a Football Superfan in a Wolf Costume Ended Up in a Cage
Before he landed in a Tulsa, Okla., jail cell, Chiefsaholic seemed to have an enviable life as a sports fan.
An exuberant, 28-year-old Kansas City Chiefs superfan in a wolf mask, Chiefsaholic attended nearly every game, home and away. N.F.L. broadcasts regularly featured him celebrating in the stands. He shared his adventures with more than 50,000 followers on social media, boasting about bets that would earn him tens of thousands of dollars if he won.
He had a good seat to see his team win the Super Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., in 2020, and took a selfie with the club’s general manager on the confetti-strewn field. He attended quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s annual fund-raising gala last month in Kansas City, and apparently won the painting that was featured onstage throughout the event.
The price tag must have been steep. A Super Bowl ticket like his would have fetched about $8,500, and an individual ticket to the Mahomes benefit goes for $1,250, to say nothing of travel costs.
“That was the only thing I questioned, how is he doing this,” said Lynn Schmidt, a superfan known as Weirdwolf.
Chiefsaholic had a simple explanation: hard work.
“After graduating KSU in 2016 I was working a warehouse job making $12 an hour,” he wrote on Twitter. “Today I manage multiple warehouses throughout the Midwest region and make an excellent living, and I’m only 28 years old. Hard work pays off and don’t let ANYONE tell you otherwise!”
Police, court and educational records largely tell a different story, and the source of his money remains a mystery. This much is clear, according to the police: On Dec. 16 in Tulsa, he stopped at a bank.
A Story Made for Hollywood?
How did Kansas City’s most ferocious fan become known for his arrest photo instead of just his wolf mask?
Fans started to worry about Chiefsaholic the day after Kansas City defeated the Houston Texans in December. He did not make it to the stadium in Houston. Even more concerning, he did not post about the overtime victory on social media.
“If anyone has seen him or is able to help then please do your thing Chiefs Kingdom,” a concerned fan posted on Reddit. One user replied that there were “literally thousands of people concerned for his safety” and that Chiefsaholic lived a clean lifestyle, making it “unlikely (but not impossible) he ran into trouble with authorities.”
After a few hours of online sleuthing, fans discovered the answer: Xaviar Babudar, as the authorities know Chiefsaholic, was sitting in a jail cell in Tulsa. He was charged with robbery with a firearm after police say he stuck a “C02 pistol” in a teller’s face at a Tulsa credit union. He had been arrested just minutes after the police said they got the call.
There Babudar remains, unable to post his $200,000 bond, and it seems it is where he will be when his beloved team plays the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
The story of a fan in a wolf costume who posted memes, recorded profane hype videos (“Let’s go, baby! You already know what it is! Chiefs Kingdom!”) and is alleged to have robbed a bank, possibly on his way to the game in Houston, sounds like a made-for-Hollywood romp.
But the truth about Babudar’s private life, pieced together from a trail of records left in courthouses and police stations across the country, is more sobering. His father abandoned the family when Babudar was 10, according to court records, and Babudar was arrested repeatedly in his teens and 20s. He appears to have been homeless for many of those years.
As Chiefsaholic, Babudar reinvented himself in the public eye, in the parking lots and stadiums where it’s easy to be a character instead of a person and outlandishness isn’t just tolerated, but celebrated.
“I thought this was a guy that can carry on the Wolfpack tradition after I’m gone,” said Schmidt, referring to the nickname of boisterous Kansas City fans. “As we can see, that’s not going to happen.”
In custody last month, Babudar signed an affidavit upon penalty of perjury that provides a stark contrast to what he said publicly about his financial condition.
Persons in household: Homeless. Cash on hand: $0. Bank account: No. Other possession of value: No. Current employment: No. Last employment: Warehouse, 2020.
From jail, he declined a request for an interview unless he was paid.
“I’m currently in the process of selling my story rights,” he wrote. “If The New York Times is interested in making an offer, then please feel free to let me know. Thanks for reaching out!”
A History With the Police
Babudar was first mentioned in court records in 2006, when he was 12. His father, Michael, had filed for bankruptcy in Southern California in 2004, and two years later his mother, Carla, made a filing in the case, asserting that Michael abandoned the family without a word, and that the family’s home had been sold by a bankruptcy trustee. Michael Babudar did not respond to messages seeking comment, and Carla Babudar could not be reached.
Babudar, his mother and his brother appear to have traveled a difficult road.
In 2012, the three were arrested and charged with trying to use fake gift certificates to pay for food at a buffet chain in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Babudar’s records in the case aren’t available because he was under 18, but his mother and brother pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace. Over the next decade, Babudar was arrested at least a half-dozen times.
In Utah, the police said, Babudar stole spoon holders and snack bags from Target, and another time switched price tags on curtain rods and then attempted to return them for full price. There are still active warrants for his arrest in both cases. He also pleaded guilty to small offenses in Kansas and Missouri. In Champlin, Minn., he was fined $300 for driving without a license.
His license plates said “KCC4EVR.”
Babudar had more than a dozen interactions with police that did not result in arrest.
At least eight times in 2016 and 2017, the police in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, had contact with Babudar. In most cases he was in a parked car with his mother and brother late at night, and a business owner found their presence suspicious. Other times they were using a hotel lobby or pool even though they were not staying at the hotel.
In police records obtained by The Times, Xaviar is described as a “jumper” who “floats from hotel to hotel.” The Babudars are “known homeless subjects” and “known to do auto burglaries at night,” though none of the Babudars has been convicted in Kansas of auto burglary.
In dozens of court documents and police reports over a decade, the Babudars listed just one address, a drop box in a Mail & Copy Plus office in Overland Park.
Many of Babudar’s encounters with the police happened when he said online that he was attending Kansas State University, a two-hour drive from Kansas City in Manhattan, Kan. The university said it had no record of Babudar’s ever attending.
Sometime in late 2017 and into 2018, Babudar’s fortunes seem to have changed. He worked for nine months at an Amazon warehouse, the company confirmed, and his contact with the police and arrests drastically diminished. Soon, his identity as Chiefsaholic emerged. He first appeared on Instagram in August 2018, posting a meme about the team involving SpongeBob SquarePants. The next month, for the first time, he posted a photograph in the wolf costume.
‘Shaking the Hand of a Legend’
After Babudar’s arrest, Kansas City fans realized he was mostly a stranger to them.
“Nobody really knew the guy behind the mask other than the fact he would show up on game day, act crazy and take lots of pictures with people,” said Matt Black, a superfan known as Almost Andy Reid.
One of the few fans who did seem to know Babudar was John Perkovich, who puts on rubber duck races in his backyard and gives away team gear to other fans. On Twitter, Babudar posted photos playing tennis with Perkovich and a voice mail message Perkovich left him after he won a big bet. But in an email, Perkovich said he socialized with Babudar only a few times and “didn’t even know his last name until it got released with news of the arrest.”
He added, “I was not close to him personally in any aspect.”
While Babudar was not necessarily embraced by the team, he was a familiar presence. Besides being on the field at the Super Bowl and attending Mahomes’s charity gala, he regularly showed up to team events and posed for photographs with players, including offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz and the star tight end Travis Kelce.
“I might’ve shaken his hand in passing, but didn’t even know I was shaking the hand of a legend,” Kelce told the former N.F.L. player Pat McAfee on Tuesday.
Ted Crews, a team spokesman, and Marques Fitch, the director of Mahomes’s foundation, did not respond to requests for comment.
A Big Bet on His Team
Now that Chiefsaholic has been unmasked as Xaviar Babudar, behaviors that were seen as quirky are beginning to make sense. Chiefsaholic frequently posted about driving, not flying, to the team’s away games. And he was well known for never parking in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot, instead walking to his car miles away. Both make a lot more sense if he was living in his car.
The question remains: How did he afford his life as Chiefsaholic? It seems unlikely he could have funded it with long-shot bets, and it’s not clear where he would have gotten the money to place them.
Soon after Babudar’s arrest, a photo began circulating online of a man wearing a wolf mask while robbing a bank. The thief wasn’t Babudar — the mask is different, the photo was from an Illinois bank robbery in 2016, and the police say Babudar entered the Tulsa credit union wearing a paintball mask — but the image planted an explanation in the minds of many fans to the nagging question of how Babudar afforded his fandom: He robbed banks.
So far, though, there is no evidence that is true. Babudar has been charged with robbing only the single bank in Oklahoma, and Kevin Keller, the head of the criminal division in the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office, said, “We believe this is a one-off in Oklahoma.”
The F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney’s office in Northern Oklahoma declined to comment on whether Babudar would face federal charges or if they are investigating him for other crimes. If the Tulsa case goes to trial, it is not likely to dwell on Babudar’s motive. Prosecutors need only prove that he committed the crime, not why he committed it.
If funding his life as a high-rolling Kansas City fan is what got Babudar jailed in Oklahoma in the first place, then it is his life as a high-rolling fan that might eventually get him out.
Babudar apparently placed an early $5,000 bet on Mahomes to win the Most Valuable Player Award, for which Mahomes is a finalist, and $5,000 on Kansas City winning the Super Bowl. If both bets pay off — and if Babudar is somehow able to collect while in jail — he will win $100,000, and will easily be able to make his bail.
That is, if the betting slips Babudar posted on social media are real.
Kirsten Noyes contributed research.