Dabbin' Granny has scored major "swag" points with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton

By Michelle Boudin
Updated February 03, 2016 05:10 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Justin Smith

A 95-year-old great-grandmother became an unlikely Internet sensation this past fall when a picture of her doing “the dab” – a hip hop dance made famous by star Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton – took the sports world by storm.

Lincolnton, North Carolina, native Mary Ward is “just tickled” by her newfound fame, her great-granddaughter Kylie Carson tells PEOPLE. “She never thought this would happen.”

Now the family is on a mission to try to get the so-called “Dabbin’ Granny” into the Super Bowl 50 stands to support her beloved Carolina Panthers – especially her favorite player.

“She has a big crush on Cam,” Carson says. “We were trying to get her to the Super Bowl. We even thought about borrowing against our business but it just cost too much. She really wants to see the Panthers in the Super Bowl.”

Either way, “I’ll be watching like I always am,” Ward says. And dabbin’ of course.

The great-grandma’s path to Internet glory began on Thanksgiving Day 2015. The Panthers were playing in the marquee game against the Dallas Cowboys. Her great-grandson gave her his Luke Kuechly jersey, told her to do the dab – described by Sports Illustrated in one simple step: “One leans in to their elbow like they’re sneezing” – and then snapped a photo.

A local sportscaster posted the picture on his Facebook page, ESPN picked it up and everyone – including Newton himself – fell fast for the Dabbin’ Granny.

Ward still lives in the house where she grew up in a rural town about an hour outside of Charlotte. A retired factory worker, she spends her days growing, grinding and packaging horseradish.

So when the Panthers invited her to sit in the stands at a game and on the field, she was thrilled.

“It’s been exciting. I’ll never forget the ballgame. That was my first time seeing a game in person. All I’ve done is waited on other people all my life and they treated me special, so this has been real exciting,” she says.

During the game, the team put Ward on the big screen and tweeted Newton’s response to seeing her dab in the stands.

“I don’t know whose grandma that was but she had a lot of swag out there,” he said.