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George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed!

George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed!

George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed!

I don’t think you’re ready for the story of George P Burdell and the legend of the man who never existed.

This is by far the most elaborate, labor intensive, time consuming, and difficult prank you’ll likely encounter.

The amount of work it required from prankster William Edgar “Ed” Smith to create a person who never existed is simply mind-blowing.

You see, William Edgar “Ed” Smith pulled off a prank that ended up creating a fake human being.

George P. Burdell absolutely, 100% never existed, yet he lived a life any real human would be proud of. It’s a testament to Ed Smith’s work, the legend of George P. Burdell was able to climb so high.

Some of Burdell’s accomplishments are listed below.

George p burdell
  • College degree
  • Flying 12 missions over Europe in a World War 2 bomber
  • Getting Married
  • On the board of Mad Magazine
  • Was the Leading vote getter for Time magazine’s person of the year
  • And Flying into outer space

George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed Begins!

In 1927 a simple mistake started the legend rolling when Ed Smith was accidentally sent two registration forms for his enrollment at Georgia Tech University.

He decided it would be an epic practical joke to enroll a fictitious person alongside his own enrollment. This decision would turn out to be the beginning of years worth of double work for William “Ed” Smith.


Miraculously George P. Burdell was accepted into Georgia Tech University. As soon as Burdell was accepted, Smith signed him up for the same classes as himself.

Smith, with the help of friends, would complete all college course work twice, changing the content and handwriting slightly to avoid professors catching on to the sham. When he had classwork, he’d do it twice, a test, he would take it twice and then turn it in under both names.

No one ever caught on to the fact this phantom person wasn’t actually in class. His grades were passing and apparently that’s all that mattered.

By 1930, Burdell had earned his bachelor’s degree and, only a few years later, received his master’s. He became an official alumnus, even though his name has remained on the active student rolls ever since!

George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed! college diploma
George Burdell’s College Degree

Since then, Burdell has never strayed far from Georgia Tech. Although the University has tried to put software in place to stop his enrollment.

He was registered for more than 3,000 hours of classes in 1969 and, in 1975, was registered for every class in the spring semester.

He was named a Regents’ Professor in 1971. Throughout the years, he’s been named host of countless balls and dances on campus.

He’s evidently lettered in both football and basketball. There was a time — even recently — when you couldn’t find a petition at Tech that didn’t have George P. Burdell’s name on it.

George P Burdell WW2 Veteran!

During WW2 service members continued the hoax, with Burdell’s name appearing on various fronts. Similar to Kilroy the first meme.

For example, he was listed on the flight crew of a B-17 Bomber, flying twelve missions over Europe with the 8th Air Force in Europe, until a Georgia Tech graduate became the new operations officer, recognized the name on the flight log, and ended the charade.

George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed!

He’s also appeared in the Korean War, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Marriage of George P. Burdell

In 1958, members of the senior class of Agnes Scott College announced the wedding engagement of Burdell and fictional Agnes Scott student Ramona Cartwright in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The 50th wedding anniversary, of “Mr. and Mrs. George P. Burdell from Atlanta” was acknowledged on the September 23, 2006 broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. You can hear it by clicking below.Mad Magazine
The publishers of Mad Magazine listed Burdell as a member of its board of directors from 1969 until 1981.

Time Magazine

Time magazine George Burdell

When Time magazine was attempting to select their Person of the Year for 2001, George Burdell was the leading candidate (holding at least 57 percent of the votes) until someone on the staff of the magazine figured it out and removed him from the running. New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani was honored that year.

Mad Magazine

The publishers of Mad Magazine listed Burdell as a member of its board of directors from 1969 until 1981.

Time Magazine

When Time magazine was attempting to select their Person of the Year for 2001, George Burdell was the leading candidate (holding at least 57 percent of the votes) until someone on the staff of the magazine figured it out and removed him from the running. New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani was honored that year.

Criminal Record

On November 27, 2014, George P. Burdell allegedly hacked into the University of Georgia’s online master calendar to post a new event titled “Get Ass Kicked by GT” during the time of the annual Georgia Tech football game.

This prank was meant to celebrate the 100-year old tradition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. While the author of the new calendar event was marked as George P. Burdell, undergraduate Computer Engineering student, Ryan Pickren, was ultimately arrested and indicted for the crime.

Space Exploration

June 25, 2019, George P. Burdell’s name flew engraved on the Prox-1 satellite mission designed and built by the Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech.

His name is listed along with all the other students who worked on the mission.

George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed!

Legacy

Burdell is a campus icon at Georgia Tech, incoming freshmen are introduced to him as one of the greatest alumni to graduate from the school.

George P. Burdell is often paged over the public address system during football games and also at airports, bars, and hotels.

Georgia Tech students or alumni use his name as an alias when they don’t want to disclose their real name.

There is also a store in Georgia Tech’s student center named “Burdell’s”.

He has a Facebook page and a Linkedin profile.

President Barack Obama gave George P. Burdell a shout-out during a packed speech at McCamish Pavilion on the Tech campus in 2015.

(“Now, I understand George P. Burdell was supposed to introduce me today. But nobody could find him.”)

Notable Pranks involving George P. Burdell

Burdell orders Furniture

One of the first pranks to use Burdell’s name came after someone had been rejected by a fraternity. That really pissed him off.

So, he went out and ordered a truckload of furniture to be delivered c.o.d. to the fraternity. As you would figure, the order was made by George P. Burdell.

George Burdell the computer Whiz!

In 1969, Georgia Tech computerized its class registration, believing it had successfully found a way to keep George from registering for class that semester.

As it turned out, hackers registered him for every class in the Institute that quarter, a heavy load at over 3,000 credit hours.

And despite subsequent fail-safe procedures to prevent it, he did so again in 1975 and 1980.

George Burdell and South Park

Burdell is most recently listed as a production assistant for the South Park website, southparkstudios.com
Gallery of George P. Burdell Related Images


Gorge P. Burdell is now a Georgia Tech University legend and it all started because Ed Smith was in a joking mood the day he filled out his enrollment for college.

In a 1977 Atlanta newspaper interview, Smith said that he originally intended to enroll his Academy of Richmond County principal, George P. Butler, but instead changed the last name to Burdell, the maiden name of his best friend’s mother.

Ed Smith is the true legend. The sheer determination shown by Ed Smith & friends is astounding to me.

It’s hard enough doing your college assignments once. The thought of doing it all twice as a prank is simply insane.

I guess that’s why George P. Burdell has gone down in history as a legend, but the true legend isn’t Burdell, it’s William “Ed” Smith.

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George P. Burdell, Legend of the Man Who Never Existed!

Thoughts?