KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If you have gone tailgating before a Vols football game you have probably met UT's smallest fan: Sinan The Squirrel.
Sinan has been under the care of Saed Awad for four years now. Awad told 10News that a friend called him asking him to help a squirrel he found in his backyard.
"I tried to release him like probably four times and he just did not want to go," Awad recalled. "So I started taking him with me everywhere I go."
They have been inseparable ever since. Together they started a tradition of visiting Melton Lake in Oak Ridge in the mornings. That is where their story with UT sports began when they met the school's rowing team.
"One of the girls, she said, 'You should put a little UT hat on him,'" Awad remembered. "So we both found a little one and put it on him. The next race they say, 'Well, the football season is about to start.'"
Now Sinan has become a UT celebrity and a famous attraction at tailgates before the games.
"Most of the time we start getting messages like two or three days before from people coming from out of town or some of them from different states," Awad said. "And they just want to meet Sinan, so we go there, almost every game tailgating."
But Sinan is not just famous at the tailgates. The squirrel has more than 43,000 followers on Instagram, while on TikTok he has gotten more than a million likes and 122,000 followers.
Sinan is most known for his cute memes trolling the competition. Awad said, however, it is all in the name of good fun.
"It just makes me happy to see people happy," Awad added.
Sinan will not be in Georgia when the Vols face off against the Bulldogs. Awad said he does not have the appropriate permits from animal control in Georgia. His goal, however, is to get those permits from multiple states, buy a camper, and go to each of the Vols' away games.