Data scientist Braden Sharp always knew he’d use his work bonus to buy a billboard with his face on it. But what started as a joking reference to matchmaking ads soon blossomed into an honest attempt to find love.
In June, Sharp, 24, bought two billboards along an interstate in northern Utah that encourage passersby to consider dating him, the culmination of a lifelong dream to see a blown-up photo of himself on his way to work.
Inspired by ads that popped up around Salt Lake City in May advertising a matchmaking event with an anonymous Mormon millionaire, Sharp’s ads take a humbler approach.
“If the millionaire doesn’t work out, here’s your chance to settle for much, much less,” his ads read.
He said he took out the personal ads for kicks, not to make a legitimate bid at dating, but he’s been surprisingly pleased with the feedback he’s received since they went up June 3. And his unique use of this money could mean sharing future bonuses with someone special.
Why should you date Braden? Let him explain.
The billboards direct interested applicants to explore date-braden.com, where Sharp rates his strongest skills and outlines why potential partners should give the “slightly-above-average” bachelor a chance.
For starters, he says, he’s not a terrible person.
What he lacks in core strength (a self-rated 55%), he more than makes up for in typing speed and handwriting quality (both 95%).
He runs and reads. He plays guitar, but he’d never touch Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” a perennial favorite of amateur musicians: “it’s a statement,” he said, and he prefers to play classical music anyway.
Still, he admits, he’s not perfect: He regularly disappears for daylong binges of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and his future girlfriend is invited, but not required, to join him.
He’s said he’s been on a few dates, with moderate success, but he had to sideline his burgeoning romantic life for a few weeks to manage end-of-quarter chaos at work and end-of-semester exams for his data science master’s program.
He has a few more rendezvous lined up, some of them second dates, and he’s keeping an open mind. Past stabs at romance failed largely because of preconceived notions of what he thought he wanted in a partner, he said.
His billboard fame has paid dividends at work, too: The admitted introvert said it’s given him more to talk about with co-workers, many of whom have grown from acquaintances to friends.
“I really thought people would laugh at it and forget it was a thing,” he said. “But it’s really paying off in every way.”