It was only a matter of time that famous gamer Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) would fall under the Animal Crossing spell.
But the news broke Thursday afternoon that she had just purchased a Nintendo Switch and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the hottest entertainment property during the pandemic, with 5 million copies sold in March. Aida Chavez, a reporter for the Intercept, said she was having a “depressing” interview with Ocasio-Cortez about coronavirus policy. She wanted to ask a light question to end, and she got confirmation: AOC is on AC.
Chavez, who was among the first political reporters to notice Ocasio-Cortez’s rising tide in New York, broke the news on Twitter. And Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Chavez.
Then the congresswoman from New York did the unthinkable. She opened her direct messages inbox to the public for four minutes, so any one of her 6.8 million followers could offer her an invitation to their Animal Crossing island.
Justin Mirsky, 32, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was just refreshing Twitter out of boredom when he noticed the congresswoman’s request. He had his Switch and Animal Crossing on in front of him anyway, so he figured, why not?
Mirsky said he sent his Dodo Code, a unique code the game generates so your friends can visit your island privately. He opened the gates to his island’s airport in the hopes that the congresswoman might visit. An hour passed, and nothing. He checked his Twitter message to her, and she still hadn’t read it.
Mirsky was getting ready to take a photo of himself having a sad face standing in front of the airport, when suddenly, he got a notification of an incoming flight. It was Alexandria, and she was visiting from BoogieDown island. She got the message.
Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that the responses from Animal Crossing players surprised her, and that it was filled with wholesome messages, and that it renewed her “faith in humanity," and that “people are asking for surprise visits to their spouse’s islands! This is the love everyone deserves.”
Although Mirsky started the game first, the island essentially belongs to his wife Laura Smykla, 33, who is on maternity leave after just having their second child. Together, they’ve put in almost 190 hours into the game. Smykla, who never played Animal Crossing, has now logged 110 hours into the game.
Mirsky said Ocasio-Cortez didn’t stay long. She came bearing five pears, which all but confirms that her starting island’s native fruit are pears. Mirsky and Smykla offered her the five other fruits in the game, which would give her a big boost in capital for constructing her own village.
Ocasio-Cortez then visited their city hall, fitting since it’s essentially the seat of power in Animal Crossing. She left a note on its bulletin board that reads, “To Justin, mama, and family - Thank you for welcoming me to your lovely island. It is such an honor to visit your home away from home!” - Alexandria from BoogieDown
Ocasio-Cortez and the couple did not get to talk to her with their voices, instead they used the in-game keyboard to communicate. The congresswoman was wondering how the couple was able to type so fast, so they taught her how to use the Nintendo Switch smartphone app, which allows for typing on the phone as well as voice chat.
“Hopefully she’s downloading that and using that for future visits,” Mirsky said. “I’m worried I used too many reactions. I hope I didn’t scare her off.”
Mirsky used to live in Ocasio-Cortez’s district and the couple were big supporters before they moved to New Rochelle. Mirsky considered asking the congresswoman to endorse Jamaal Bowman for Congress in his district, but Smykla advised him against making her Animal Crossing trip political.
Smykla said she should’ve put the baby to bed hours ago, but she was too excited for the visit.
“I’m so happy, I can’t believe it happened,” she said.
“I’m hoping this gets me out of a Mother’s Day gift,” Mirsky replied. In the meantime, this is the couple’s best Animal Crossing memory to date.
Ocasio-Cortez is a known gamer, having professed her previous addiction to multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends, the world’s most popular e-sport. She’s also appeared on charity Twitch streams by leftist creators.
The Washington Post reached out to the congresswoman for comment and to visit one of our islands, but she didn’t read our direct messages.