SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) — A record-setting attendance at Saturday’s Florida Panthers game may not have been entirely due to what was happening on the ice.
On a night that the Panthers handed out cardboard cutouts of actor Keven Spacey’s face, the “House of Cards” star surprised fans by taking off his “Spacey Facey” mask as the videoboard camera panned around the stands.
The Academy Award-winning actor attended the game Saturday night in support of the Panthers, wearing a sweatshirt showing an image of his face.
Word of Spacey’s appearance at the BB&T Center began to circulate after the movie star posted a video of him packing a suitcase, which included his custom Panthers jersey.
Whether or not a late ticket-surge happened due to Spacey, the team announced a sellout crowd of 20,817, a new regular-season record for attendance.
Indeed, the Spacey in Space phenomenon in South Florida is for real.
It started as a joke a few months ago, when the Panthers issued a blue sweatshirt with “Spacey In Space” — his face floating in outer space — to the star of each winning game. After a win, that player would then hand the shirt off to someone else.
Spacey, an Oscar winner for “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty,” caught wind of it through social media.
Whatever “Spacey In Space” means remains a mystery; players have kept their fascination with it a closely guarded inside joke.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, they didn’t get a chance to award the hoodie Saturday night after their 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Spacey visited briefly with the players in their locker room after the game.
“He came in after (and) we said hi to him,” Nick Bjugstad said, “It wasn’t as fun as if we would have won, the environment in the locker room. We’re down a little bit. We definitely appreciate him coming down, supporting the team.”
Spacey’s appearance on the scoreboard drew a huge roar from the crowd, many of whom also wore masks of his face.
“He congratulated me on my new contract and said he wanted a piece of it,” said Aleksander Barkov, who got a $35.5 million extension over six years.
Even the Red Wings were excited by Spacey’s appearance.
“It was pretty cool seeing Kevin Spacey in the stands,” Dylan Larkin said. “The crowd got pretty crazy, so that was a cool moment.”
The sweatshirts sell for $40. Proceeds go to the Florida Panthers Foundation and the Kevin Spacey Foundation.
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