DYER, Ind. — The incredibly popular Facebook page devoted to the Chicago Blackhawks created by Joel Miller has more than 132,000 followers.
Only a select few know Miller is an 18-year-old high school senior living at his parents' home in Dyer, Ind.
"People have no idea," said Miller, whose "I bet the Blackhawks can get 1 million fans before any other NHL team!" Facebook site has been active for three years.
"When I write posts, I try to be very professional and act like I'm not an 18-year-old kid," Miller said. "People think I'm part of the Blackhawks' organization."
Miller is simply a huge Blackhawks fan. His room is filled with team memorabilia, including a Hawks blanket and a giant cutout poster of his favorite player, Patrick Kane. Even his car has a tire cover with the team logo.
"The Blackhawks are his passion," said Kevin Adams, 17, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School senior and one of the 10-or-so people who know the site was made by Miller.
Ironically, Miller has been to only one Blackhawks game in his life, and the nosebleed tickets in the upper deck were a 15th birthday present from his father, Steve.
But attending that tilt — a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 14, 2010 — was the impetus for starting the site.
"They won, I was pumped up, and I went home and made the Facebook page that night," said Miller, who attends Lake Central High School.
The site took off almost immediately. Within three days, it had 1,000 followers. About a week later, 10,000 people "liked" it, and it's been growing since, Miller said.
"It just blew up," he said.
Miller believes the site's popularity was spurred by the Blackhawks' success that season — when they won their first Stanley Cup since 1961.
The team's record-setting start this year — they broke the NHL mark with an 18-0-3 opening to this season — has helped boost the following, Miller said.
The page's fans are not just locals. The site has 660 followers from Canada, 204 from the United Kingdom, 128 from Italy and Indonesia, 96 from France and 93 from India.
"Having a Facebook page to me is normal, but having this many fans is blowing me away," said Miller's mother, Christa.
During games, Miller posts whenever the Blackhawks score a goal, win a fight or claim a victory. He also occasionally updates the site prior to games or with breaking news to an injured player.
Most of the postings are pictures of players with quick-hit text messages, like "Dear Stanley Cup: We are coming for you" or "Dear [Marian] Hossa ... We hope you are OK ... Love your fans".
Almost all of the posts receive hundreds — and many times thousands — of "likes."
"He keeps it professional and fun at the same time, and does a great job of bringing the fans together," said Miller's friend Brittany Kimmel, 19, an Illiana Christian High School graduate now at Liberty University.
Miller will attend Liberty later this year and likely will go into business or marketing. That should suit him well since he said he's received three or four offers to buy the site.
"With people starting to approach him now, I think he's just starting to realize the site's potential," said Steve Miller, the senior pastor at the Village Church in Dyer. "It's so cool he's been able to do something this unique, without people knowing who he is."
When Miller began the site, he hoped to have 1,000 followers. He included the "1 million" in the name because at the time many Facebook pages were using the phrase, but Miller doesn't expect to attract a million likes. (The Blackhawks' official Facebook page has about 1.2 million likes.)
"It's not about the numbers," he said. "I'm just glad I have this opportunity to share what I love with other people. It's been the most fun thing in the world to watch the Blackhawks and talk about them when I watch them."