On Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin drove up to Laurel, Maryland, for an exclusive autograph signing sponsored by Fanatics. Ovechkin signed countless pucks, photos, and jerseys for Caps fans who traveled to Sports Card Heroes. One fan also had a creative request, which Ovechkin happily obliged.
Mike Zupan, a long-time Capitals fan and US Army veteran, was never quite interested in getting a tattoo during his childhood. But in his adult years, he reconsidered when he daydreamed about a potential Capitals’ Stanley Cup championship run. That, to him, and many other fans in this area, would be worth celebrating. In June, the Capitals finally achieved that franchise first and Mike decided to get two tattoos to forever remember the 2017-18 season: a Stanley Cup with the Capitals logo and Alex Ovechkin’s autograph underneath.
Every tattoo is unique. And for anyone who has gotten one, no matter if the design is large or small, detailed, or abstract, has a special story.
Mike’s story is especially captivating as he had Ovechkin literally sign his arm. He writes about the backstory and his experience below.
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I got my second tattoo! @aleksandrovechkinofficial was having a signing and he agreed to sign my arm under my #stanleycup tat. Thanks to Rooster at @xposedtattoo for inking it! #capstattoo #rmnb #tattoo #capitals #washingtoncapitals
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I’m 48-years-old and a US Army veteran. My friend’s dad took us to a Caps game at the Capital Centre back around 1978-80. I was hooked and have been a big Caps fan ever since. There were a few years when I was either in the military or living out of the area where I couldn’t follow the Capitals as well as I’d like. This was before you could stream games and it was hard to watch the games on TV in other markets. But I moved back to the area about 12 years ago and shortly after Ovechkin signed with the Caps I started watching religiously and went to as many games as I could. It was clear that Ovechkin’s arrival to the Capitals and to D.C. was very special.
I had no tattoos, but about five years ago I made the decision that I was going to get a tattoo whenever the Capitals won the Stanley Cup. I had been going to a playoff game or two each year that we made it, and we never made it past the second round. It was frustrating to me (and I know it was frustrating to the team) and a couple years ago I decided to stop going to any playoff games before the third round. When we made it past the Penguins this year, I cried. We finally beat the Penguins and we finally made it past the second round. At that point, I knew that we would go all the way. I went to the Round 3 viewing parties and saved some cash for a Stanley Cup Final game. I cried again when we beat the Lightning to advance to the Final round. I attended the Game 1 and 2 viewing parties. I was able to get a ticket to Game 4. The arena was filled with passion and excitement! I was lucky enough to get admission into Capital One Arena for the Game 5 viewing party. The arena was packed! When we won, I couldn’t stop balling like a baby. I didn’t care though. WE JUST WON THE STANLEY CUP!
Fast forward to mid-August. I have been thinking about this tattoo now that we have finally won and wasn’t sure what to get. I had been searching for tattoo ideas and finally found one that peaked my interest. I took this picture of a beautiful photo-realistic tattoo of Ovechkin kissing the Stanley Cup above his head. Exposed Temptations in Manassas was highly recommended by friends, so I took this picture of the tattoo down there and showed it to the tattoo artist. I could tell even before he started speaking that he didn’t think that this would be a good fit for someone’s first tattoo. The first words out of his mouth were “that’s going to be big.” So after we talked, I decided to research some more ideas and finally found one that I like. It’s the Stanley Cup with the Capitals logo on the Cup and the year 2018. So I returned to Exposed Temptations for a consultation with Rick on September 11. I figured we’d discuss it and maybe schedule an appointment, but he said: “do you want to do it now?” I paused a moment to let that sink in and then said “sure!”
I was in the chair for 2.5 hours. It didn’t hurt as much as I expected, but my body was definitely done at about the two-hour mark. It is still healing, but I am really happy with how it turned out!
At that point, I had fulfilled my goal of getting a Stanley Cup championship tattoo and thought I was done. But then about a week later I read Alex Ovechkin’s Twitter post that he was going to be doing a public autograph session at Sports Card Heroes on September 22. I immediately knew that I wanted him to sign under my new Stanley Cup tattoo. I emailed the shop owner and explained what I wanted to do. He sounded excited about it and told me to ask for him when I arrived the day of the signing. That day I met him and he introduced me to the Fanatics rep, who said he can’t make any promises but suspected Alex would be open to it. So I bought two autograph tickets. My jersey was a Premium item and my body… not so much. My body is apparently equal to a flat photo.
So I got up to the table with Ovechkin and handed him my jersey to be signed. The rep asked where my second item was and then realized it was me. I raised my sleeve and asked Alex if he would sign my arm under the Stanley Cup tattoo. I had even prepped by marking my skin with a pen where the bottom of my sleeve is so he knew the area he had to work with. Alex looked at me a bit puzzled and looked over at the Fanatics rep who explained that I wanted to get his autograph tattooed. Alex chuckled and said, “Yeah sure. No problem!” He signed it in blue Sharpie so that the tattoo artist could tattoo it easier. I said thank you, got a quick photo, and went on my way.
I forgot to ask if anyone else has ever gotten his signature tattooed. I haven’t found any pictures of others online.
Walking around the store with my sleeve rolled up still, I had several people comment about how awesome it was that I was doing this. A few people took pictures, including one of the employees.
When I left, I immediately called Exposed Temptations and explained that I wanted to get the autograph inked. They told me to come on in so I drove straight there. When I arrived, my tattoo artist, Rooster, looked at it and asked, “Who is it?” He knew that Elton John was just in town and thought it might be him.
I explained who it was. He said that he thinks that stuff like this is badass! He inked it directly on the signature and really focused on making sure it retained the characteristics of a Sharpie, with it being darker in some areas and small specs missing in others. He wanted to make sure it was exactly as it was signed. You can see the original blue signature in the photo compared to the black inked tattoo. I told Rooster how happy I was with it and that I may get him to do a half sleeve on that arm later.
Had the Caps not won the Stanley Cup, I would have never gotten the first tattoo. Had I not gotten that Stanley Cup tattoo, I would have not randomly gotten Alex Ovechkin’s autograph permanently inked on my body. But the two of these together just felt right. Some people ask what I’m going to do if Alex moves to a different team or gets accused of something illegal. My thought is that he is one of the very best players of all time and was the captain of the Washington Capitals when they won the Stanley Cup, and you can never take that away! I have no regrets.
Unfortunately, I spent my budget on this (and Stanley Cup merchandise) and with the high prices of home opener tickets I can’t make that game, as much as seeing the banner raised means to me. But I will always have the memory of attending Game 4 of the year the Capitals won the Stanley Cup Final.
Headline photo: Mike Zupan
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