LOS ANGELES--The crowd counted down the seconds to midnight, "Five, four, three, two, one," and then they went wild.
Inside the EB Games store at Universal CityWalk here, a phalanx of reporters awaited the midnight arrival of Jonathan Mann, the first person in line to buy one of Nintendo's new video game console, the Wii.
Seconds after midnight, as an explosion of streamers coated the ground outside, Mann came inside the store, walked up to the counter, and got some bad news from Nintendo senior vice president of marketing and communications George Harrison, who was standing behind the register to greet him.
"I'm sorry, we're all out," Harrison said.
Flat humor aside, Harrison quickly handed over Mann's Wii, and Mann--a hard-core Nintendo fan who was nearly adept at promoting himself, his music and his Website as Nintendo is at drumming up interest in its new console--held it up over his head in triumph. A moment later, at the request of a member of the press corps, Mann sang his original song, "A world of Wii." He may not get a record contract.
Later, as nearly 1,000 Wii fans still waited for their turn to get their Wii, Mann was standing outside the store, gleaming. Apparently, he'd been given a bit of a surprise when he got to the counter: "They comped me a Wii," he said. "It was a total surprise. I'm totally psyched."
Clearly, Nintendo was rewarding Mann for his persistence--he'd arrived here at 10 am Friday. So, with having put in 38 hours to get a gift Wii worth $250, Mann earned himself a solid $6.58 an hour.