FORT MYERS — Ryan Carroll only started watching “Breaking Bad” about a year ago. But Sunday night, he’ll be the most envied fan — watching the series finale with the show’s cast at a private party at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Carroll, 28, and a friend are flying to Los Angeles Sunday morning after winning an online contest he learned about on Twitter.
“I think we’re going to be in Hazmat suits with them,” Carroll said of the cast. “It’s going to be crazy.”
For those of you who have been in a coma for the last five years, “Breaking Bad” follows the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher who turns to cooking methamphetamine to secure his family’s financial security after he is diagnosed with cancer. Over the last five seasons, White has slowly changed from a family man to a ruthless drug kingpin.
“You just see him transform into the devil, basically,” said Carroll, a San Carlos Park resident and FGCU grad.
“If you start watching it, you can’t stop,” he said of the show, which has become a pop culture AMC phenom. “It’s highly addicting, just like the meth they make (on the show).”
Carroll said he was watching a new episode a couple of weeks back when he learned that Aaron Paul, the actor who plays White’s sidekick Jesse on the show, was live tweeting. Carroll said he doesn’t use Twitter often, but jumped online to check it out.
During the Twitter session, Paul mentioned a contest he was hosting on the website Omaze.com to benefit his wife’s anti-bullying nonprofit, The Kind Campaign. People who donated were entered into a raffle. The grand prize: A trip to Hollywood with a friend to watch the finale with the “Breaking Bad” cast as Paul’s guests of honor.
Carroll made a donation because he said it was for a good cause and even if he didn’t win, Paul was sending out autographed merchandise.
A couple of days ago, Carroll said that for some reason he was up around 3:30 in the morning and noticed he had a new email from one of the people behind the contest website. They ended up doing an online video chat. During that chat, the man he was chatting with held a phone up to the screen. It was Paul, who chatted for a while and told Carroll he was a finalist.
Eventually, he let the cat out of the bag.
“He said ‘You’re the grand prize winner. You are the only winner,’” Carroll recalled. “I started going crazy. I was speechless.”
(According to the Hollywood Reporter, the contest has since added an additional grand prize winner due to a glitch with the initial raffle.)
Carroll could bring one friend with him, and he said he had to flip a coin to decide. He and his pal Ryan Voss fly out just after 6 a.m. today and get into Los Angeles around 11:30 a.m. Paul, an Emmy winner, is supposed be holding a sign with their names at the airport.
“I guess he’s going to pick us up in the RV they cook on the show in,” Carroll said.
Carroll said he and Voss have been asked if it’s OK if they are filmed for a documentary about the show.
After tonight’s festivities, Carroll and Voss fly back to Fort Myers on Monday afternoon. Not a bad 24-hour trip to L.A.
Carroll said he’s been impressed by Paul, who he said has done a lot for charity and regularly interacts with fans.
“Based on my conversations with him, he seems real laid back and cool,” Carroll said. “I can’t wait to meet him.”