AP NEWS

Texas popcorn maker the people’s choice for Australian PM

August 24, 2018

Peter Dutton was going about his business as the co-owner of Austin’s Soul Popped Gourmet Popcorn earlier this week when his social media accounts started sizzling like a summer afternoon in the Outback.

But it wasn’t because there was a sudden hunger for the Houston native’s snacks. The tweets and messages coming through his @PeterDutton5 Twitter account were by people from halfway around the world: Australians who had mistaken him for a different Peter Dutton, a politician in their country’s Liberal Party, who was in the midst of a vicious, high-stakes political war to become the leader of the party, and perhaps the nation’s next prime minister.

“For the last year or so, I’ve been getting random messages, but this week I’ve seen a lot more than usual,” the Texan Dutton said by phone. “I retweeted theirs with a comment that I wish my Australian people would look at my profile before messaging me and realize that I’m a 30-year-old black guy in Austin. That tweet, in the next five minutes, had blown up to 2,000 likes and shares.”

Even after these confused Aussies realized that it was our Dutton they were communicating with, many still thought he’d make for a better prime minister than theirs, even welcoming him as their new “fearless leader.”

And one cheeky Aussie dubbed simply asked, “How does it feel to be the most loved Peter Dutton in Australia?”

Texas’ Dutton is now something of a star in Australia with stories about him all over the continent. Our Dutton has even been dubbed “the people’s PM” or, as the Sydney Morning Herald declared, “From the flames of the seething garbage fire of this week in Australian democracy, one man has emerged victorious: @PeterDutton5.”

Because a people’s prime minister should have at least seen the country he’s governing, there’s a Go Fund Me page set up to pay for a trip to Australia for Dutton and his wife, who’s expecting a baby girl. As of Friday evening, $2,050 of the $2,500 goal had been raised and one excited Dutton fan, @jwebbby, even reached out to the Texan’s wife Audre, tweeting, “So excited to have you as the First Lady of Australia!”

But when Dutton travels across the Pacific, it won’t be all about beaches and shrimp on the barbies. There’ll be a little business, too.

“We’re trying to get the popcorn company onto Amazon Australia because so many people are looking for the popcorn in Australia,” he said of the treats, that include flavors like Austin Smoke BBQ or Real Dill Sour Pickle. “So we’re trying to do some big popcorn-party release in Australia so we can do something for the people because they have just been so loving and caring towards me and our business. It’s been a humbling experience for me.”

To top it off, the Aussie Dutton might be wishing he were the American one right now. He lost the hotly contested parliamentary vote Thursday to Scott Morrison who replaces Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister.

cary.darling@chron.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly