How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wound up on a Donkey Kong 64 Twitch charity stream

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H.Bomberguy, aka Harry Brewis, streamed Nintendo 64 game Donkey Kong 64 on and off for more than 57 hours this weekend. He did so to raise money for U.K.-based charity Mermaids, an organization that offers support for transgender children, teenagers, and their families. What started off as an endeavor to “spite” an Irish comedian who opposes the charity organization has turned into a wild, surprising success; Brewis raised more than $340,000, and his stream featured cameo appearances from Doom co-creator John Romero, activist Chelsea Manning, and U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Brewis started his stream on Twitch on Jan. 18. In a YouTube video announcing the stream, he said he’d never beaten Donkey Kong 64 as a kid. His old save file purportedly shows 59-plus hours of playtime, but just 69 percent completion. Brewis’ goal for the charity stream was to beat the N64 game 100 percent.

“I want to destroy Donkey Kong 64,” he said.

His other target of destruction was writer-director-comedian Graham Linehan, whose work includes the sitcoms Father Ted and The IT Crowd. In a since-deleted message board post, Linehan promoted an email campaign questioning Mermaids’ funding by the National Lottery. Brewis explained that Linehan was the catalyst for his fundraising effort.

“All the proceeds from this stream will go to Mermaids, a charity which works to provide resources and support to young people with gender dysphoria,” Brewis said. “I chose to support this charity, because as a person living in Britain, I find the media discussion surrounding this issue in my country, especially in its tabloids to be woefully misinformed. And I’d like to do my bit to help support the people who do the hard work of contributing to peoples’ thinking on an important issue.

“I chose Mermaids in specific because when they were designated some funding by the National Lottery, Graham Linehan, a comedy writer who did some work on a good show, uh, 20 years ago who happens to be very normal man who’s just just very angry about trans people all day nowadays went on Mumsnet and told them to email a lady from the National Lottery en masse and now the funding is under review. So well done, Graham! You have a massive audience and the power to choose to fight for progress in all the many forms we need in the world right now and you used it to make sure some children won’t have access to helpful resources.”

Brewis’ stream had already raised more than $50,000 in its first 24 hours, speedily heading toward an ever-increasing fundraising goal. People like John Romero, Jim Sterling, and Chelsea Manning popped onto the stream, apparently via Brewis’ Discord channel, but it was the appearance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district and who is very good at Twitter, that drew the most attention.

So how did she wind up there? We can thank Aaron Sorkin, creator of television series The West Wing and The Newsroom.

Sorkin appeared on CNN this week and spoke to host Fareed Zakaria, saying that he likes “the new crop of young people who were just elected to Congress” but that they “now need to stop acting like young people.” (At 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to serve in Congress.) Sorkin said that Democrats have “an opportunity to be the non-stupid party,” adding, “it’s not just about transgender bathrooms — that’s a Republican talking point they’re trying to distract you with.”

Ocasio-Cortez criticized Sorkin’s comments in a Twitter thread and concluded with a retweet from Mermaids that was promoting the Donkey Kong 64 stream. Shortly after — and after numerous requests on Twitter for Ocasio-Cortez to appear on stream — she joined Discord and had a chat with H.Bomberguy to help raise money. Ocasio-Cortez said that while she never owned a Nintendo 64 herself, her cousin did, and thanks to games like Super Mario 64 and Pokémon Snap, she considers it “probably the best system out of all of them.”

Apparently, Ocasio-Cortez has had games on the brain this weekend, based on another pair of tweets in which she name-dropped Dance Dance Revolution and brought the classic Zero Wing meme “All your base are belong to us” out of internet storage.

Update (Jan. 21): Brewis’ stream concluded early this morning, after 57 hours and 48 minutes. According to his Twitch archive, he raised more than $340,000 during that period. On Twitter, he pledged that Twitch bits and subscriptions to his channel will go to Mermaids, and said “any subs that remain after will go towards a fund for trans, nonbinary and others who need direct help. Will announce details when we figure it out and I’m alive again.” He also encouraged people to donate directly to Mermaids. This story was updated with final streaming time and donation amounts.