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October 29, 2009

Cullman business owner becomes an unlikely Internet celebrity

CULLMAN — When Robert Lee was approached about making a YouTube commercial, he was apprehensive.

But when Internet comedians Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal showed up, he got into character and played along, he said. The result is a wonderfully cheesy Internet commercial that more than 300,000 people have viewed since it was posted last week.

Lee’s business, Cullman Liquidation Center, was chosen for an online commercial through the credit company MicroBilt, partly because the company wanted to feature a business in the South  — and with the owner’s name being Robert Lee, it was a no-brainer.

“That is really his name, and some of the commercial is real,” said Nancy Macon, office manager at Cullman Liquidation.

In the commercial, Lee says, “A bouncer in Birmingham hit me in the face with a crescent wrench five times, and my wife’s boyfriend broke my jaw with a fence post. So if you don’t buy a trailer from me, it ain’t gonna hurt my feelings.”

Lee was willing to admit some parts of the commercial are true to his own life, but he wouldn’t say which ones. He doesn’t describe himself as a redneck but said he definitely had to play one for the commercial.

“As hard as times are, I thought everyone needed a good laugh,” he said.

Since the commercial was posted on YouTube less than a week ago, there have been more than 300,000 views. Cullman Liquidation has gotten calls from all over North America, including as far away as Canada.

“We had no idea it would cause this much attention,” Macon said.

If given the chance again, Lee said he would not do the commercial.

“I wasn’t going to tell anybody about it. My little brother, who lives out of state, called me about it and I hadn’t even told him,” he said. “But everyone I know has already seen it and commented on it. My competition said they will use it against me.”

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