Billy Mays - The forefather of "As seen on TV" sales went to WVU. He didn't graduate, but given he was born with all the tools he needed to rule the world it seems he was just wasting time until he found the medium to reach us all in the comfort of our own home. The ability to sell a Popsicle to an Eskimo isn't a talent exclusive to Mountaineers. But we've certainly had our fair share of snake oil salesmen. Mays was a walk-on linebacker for the Mountaineers. So clearly his Mountaineerness cannot be brought into question. His Mountaineerness could only be elevated if he just would have let that beard grow a little bit.
We give him 4 crossed muskets and a Dapper Dan.
Steve Harvey - The Welch native has taken a long strange trip to stardom. According to his Wiki page, he was a boxer, an insurance salesman, a carpet cleaner, and a mailman before he made his mark. And there's this:
Harvey first performed stand-up comedy on October 8, 1985 at the Hilarities Comedy Club in Cleveland, Ohio. In the late 1980s Harvey was homeless for multiple years. He slept in his 1976 Ford when not performing gigs that provided a hotel, and he showered at gas stations or swimming pool showers.
His list of professional accomplishments are noteworthy and it's a long list. We give him 4 crossed muskets and an earthquake.
Stephen Coonts - Another West Virginia native that graduated from WVU. Coonts made his name as an author. But he did other stuff too.
Coonts grew up in Buckhannon, West Virginia, a small coal-mining town, and earned a B.A. degree in political science at West Virginia University in 1968. He entered the Navy the following year and flew an A-6 Intruder medium attack plane during the Vietnam War, where he served on two combat cruises aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). He accumulated 1600 hours in the A-6 Intruder and earned a number of Navy commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross.
I can't say I've read any of his books. But... you know... hats off to you, sir.
Four crossed muskets and a Baa Baa Black Sheep.
Don Knotts - Five crossed muskets. That is all.
Chris Sarandon - Probably best known for his role as Prince Humperdink in the Princess Bride, the Beckley native has enjoyed a long and fruitful acting career. My first recollection of him is in the movie, Fright Night. A horrible movie that was only palatable because of his role. He was married to Susan Sarandon for a time and has since been married to Joanna Gleason. He's made a habit of playing the villain over the years. But none was better than his role as Humperkinck.
And still, he's made his way back to WVU to pass on his experience.
We give him four crossed muskets and a set of theater masks
Antoine Fuqua - This one caught me off guard. As we West Virginians tend to know who's who in the representation of our state. So if the name doesn't register with you right away...
...an American film director. His first feature film was the action film The Replacement Killers (1998). He then directed the crime thrillerTraining Day (2001), in which star Denzel Washington won an Oscar, the action war drama Tears of the Sun (2003), the Arthurian legend film King Arthur (2004), the conspiracy action thriller Shooter (2007), the crime film Brooklyn's Finest (2010), and the action thrillers Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and The Equalizer (2014), which pairs Fuqua with Denzel
and there's this
Attended West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia on an athletic scholarship for basketball. He studied electrical engineering (focusing on electromagnetism and signal processing) before moving back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (this move was brief and only to figure out his true calling) and then to New York, New York to work in film.
Pretty amazing! We give him four crossed muskets and a director's megaphone.
There are certainly other Mountaineer alumni that have gone on to do great things. Please feel free to share their story in the comments.