Can A Former Division II Football Player Become An Internet Celebrity? Oh you bet
Across the Midwest this weekend, Big Ten Conference fans will tune in to watch their favorite teams play in the annual smorgasbord of college football bowling games, many of them with witch’s chicken wings dipped in. a ranch that they will wash with a cold Busch Light.
And between plays and during commercials, there’s a good chance they’ll scroll their phones and find a video of Myles Montplaisir opening his own icy Busch Light – or, Busch ‘Latte’, in his words – and have a few laughs from the beer snobs, the cooler snobs, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and just about Midwestern life itself.
Montplaisir, a former preseason football star in Fargo, North Dakota who played four years in the NCAA Division II Minnesota State Moorhead, is the face of the You Betcha series of viral videos, podcasts and merchandise, that celebrate all that is awesome in a region that many see as a land of flyby.
His YouTube channel begins in 2022 with over half a million subscribers and the project he and a friend started during a social media bar chat has exploded in size and popularity while making Montplaisir, a sort of unofficial ambassador for the region; a pretty impressive story for a guy who was benched a few games in his first season.
A foundation in football
The eight-time letter recipient in three sports at Shanley High School in Fargo, North Dakota, Montplaisir has twice won All-Conference and All-State honors and in 2010 was named a senior AA athlete of the North Dakota year in 2010 after throwing for 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns.
From there, Montplaisir moved just across the North Dakota-Minnesota border to MSU Moorhead, an NCAA Division II program and member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
He started his college career as a quarterback but was benched after an admittedly unimpressive start to his freshman season in a red shirt. Not interested in just sitting on the bench, Montplaisir volunteered to move up to the wide receiver and ended the year with four catches for 34 yards.
Montplaisir moved to the defensive end the following season, opening the year as linebacker before moving on to tight end, which was also his senior position when he started all 11 Dragons games and finished the year with three catches for 73 yards, including a 46-yard reception against Bemidji State
“My position was the ‘short quarterback receiver,” Montplaisir says with a laugh. “I played pretty much every position under the sun.”
Fully aware that professional football was not likely in his future, Montplaisir was already honing his business skills during his studies, first by selling t-shirts. Although his major was in exercise science, Montplaisir was also interested in marketing and, after leaving Moorhead, teamed up with a friend of Fargo to start a marketing business.
“(The marketing company) is in the big odds,” Montplaisir said of that business. “It was basically me and him, running around town, trying to convince people to let us run their social media. We were really busy but we never really took off, mainly because we were still doing it. find out from our side. “
The Eureka moment
It was during this effort that Montplaisir had the idea to launch what would eventually become YouBetcha.
Social media marketing was just starting to take off and Montplaisir was hired to produce a video for a client, he befriended one of the client’s employees, Ryan Sheeley.
The duo were discussing social media content one night and at one point during the conversation the topic shifted to the Midwest and its many stereotypes.
“We had the idea of, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there was like a Midwest-based entertainment page and it was kind of celebrated as being from the Midwest? “Montplaisir said.” And you know, you’ve seen some of our similar content, which just epitomizes that the Midwest is the best. And we love being here and we think it should be celebrated. There is nobody there. that really delivers content like we’re proud to be from here.
From this conversation came the first video, in which Montplaisir compares two beers side-by-side: Spotted Cow, a popular craft beer that’s only available in Wisconsin, and its elixir of choice, Busch Light.
It turned out to be a smash hit. Since its debut in June 2018, the video has been viewed about five million times – although it has ruffled a few feathers in Wisconsin, where Spotted Cow is considered a state treasure by some.
“It’s been along the road with the state of Wisconsin from the start,” Montplaisir said. “I hope they know this is all fun.”
Judging by the popularity of the site, there doesn’t appear to be any resentment in the Badger State. In fact, the first first Takeover of the YouBetcha bar took place in Wisconsin, at the Wisconsin Dells Showboat Saloon.
It didn’t take long for Montplaisir to develop an following and what started out as a few fun videos quickly turned into The You Betcha brand and, in turn, not just a job but an actual business.
“It got out of hand quickly,” says Montplaisir.
And as the head of this operation, Montplaisir uses his days on the football field to help things run smoothly.
“Being on a football team is the best way to prepare for business,” says Montplaisir. “There’s a guy running the show, everyone has their part and the better you can play your part, the better the team will play. There is also a recruitment aspect, because you have to find the right talent to find the right employees.
“And every once in a while you have to play a trick, like a house blitz, and take a risk.” Sometimes you burn yourself and sometimes you don’t and sometimes when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing I think to myself ‘how would a good football team approach this problem’.
The approach paid off. It wasn’t too long ago that a six-person operation grew to 18 employees, and YouBetcha is now a fully-fledged media company that produces videos, podcasts, and merchandise.
NIL & The Future
Unsurprisingly, YouBetcha has become a big hit on college campuses across the region, where the Big Ten reigns supreme. And it’s also not surprising that when the NIL legislation came into effect last year, Montplaisir received a lot of inquiries from varsity athletes looking to partner or develop their own brands.
For now, those relationships are still in their infancy, but it’s something Montplaisir is watching closely as his business continues to grow and evolve.
“A lot of people reached out to us when (NIL) hit, but other than being able to say ‘yes you can be a YouBetcha athlete and throw them a little bit (of merchandise), there wasn’t a lot of value, so we haven’t done a ton with it, “Montplaisir says.” If I want to do it, I want it to be like something that can add value. “
There are ideas in mind, like a podcast with the Big Ten athletes, that would integrate well with existing sports content from You Betcha: it’s focused on golf and the Cleveland-based content creator. Sir Yacht, which takes a light look at the Ohio sports scene.
Montplaisir is a huge fan of the rule change and happy that players could use their abilities and notoriety to earn a few bucks along the way, but he’s not sure it would have made a big difference during his playing days.
“I don’t think I would have made any money playing Division II football,” said Montplaisir. I don’t even know if my dad would have paid me, but I’m glad that everything (NONE) happened and people can now recruit athletes and use them in their marketing, and athletes can get paid to be too a big star as they are.
“But no, I don’t think anybody would have paid me.”
Which is actually very good in the grand scheme of things as things have worked out quite well for Montplaisir, who plans to continue using his experience to further grow his business.
“We have a whole network of content that the Midwest loves,” says Montplaisir. “That’s really the end goal, it’s not me to have an audience and all that is to build a media business that makes sense to the world today and the Midwest and to build a great network and move forward. “