George P. Burdell was a man born of a simple mistake. In 1927, someone in the admissions office at Georgia Tech accidentally sent student Ed Smith two registration forms instead of one.
Sensing an opportunity for mischief, Smith filled out one form for himself and the other for George P. Burdell — a student he completely made up. When Smith arrived at school, he kept the ruse going by enrolling Burdell in all of his classes and even turning in assignments under his name.
In fact, Smith did so much work on behalf of his imaginary friend that Burdell eventually graduated.When other students found out about the hoax, they helped keep Burdell’s story going.
According to his résumé, Burdell flew 12 missions over Europe during World War II and served on MAD magazine’s Board of Directors from 1969 to 1981. In 2001, when Burdell was supposedly 90 years old, he nearly became Time magazine’s Person of the Year after garnering 57 percent of online votes.
Today, Burdell is one of Georgia Tech’s most celebrated alums. He even has a page on Facebook, where he keeps in touch with more than 4,000 “friends.”
Read More: CNN