Opening Statements

Seattle lawyer unwittingly acquires rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot's cellphone number

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Illustration by J. Manzo

When Jonathan Nichols was a 1L at Seattle University, the law school’s career counselor suggested he obtain a local phone number to use when applying for jobs. So he headed to the nearby Verizon store and chose the easiest number to remember.

Soon after, he began receiving wrong-number calls, which he expected. But what he didn’t expect were the random text messages with clips of people beatboxing and writing, ‘Yo, yo, check this out. You should work with him.’ ” Nichols employed the “deductive reasoning” he was honing in law school and determined that the person who’d had that number was someone in the music industry. One call was from a Ferrari dealership asking whether “Anthony Ray” was interested in a test drive. “I explained that I was just a broke law student,” Nichols quips. Sometimes, for a laugh, he’d play the messages for fellow students.

Then, in the summer of 2012, Nichols’ phone started blowing up with happy birthday text messages. “I got selfies from women saying things like ‘Hey Mix, I’ve got a big butt!’ My jaw dropped. I decided to research Anthony Ray and learned that was the real name of Sir Mix-a-Lot, and that day was indeed his birthday.” A rapper and producer, Sir Mix-a-Lot is best known for his song “Baby Got Back,” which includes the lyrics “I like big butts and I cannot lie.”

Four years later, Nichols is a licensed lawyer handling child welfare cases. He still gets occasional calls and texts meant for Sir Mix-a-Lot. “It doesn’t bother me,” he says. “It breaks up the monotony of briefing cases.”

Friends have suggested that Nichols capitalize on that golden number by accepting offers to test-drive Ferraris or requesting backstage passes. “But I took a legal ethics class taught by a judge. I figured he’d be proud of me if I stayed honest.” So he simply deletes the more risqué texts and politely tells callers they have the wrong number.

The Seattle Times learned in January about Nichols’ story and wrote a piece that attracted widespread attention, including from Sir Mix-a-Lot. In response, he tweeted “So sorry. :-)”

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “Mix-a-Up: Seattle lawyer unwittingly acquires rapper’s cellphone number.”

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