A viral design being proposed as the new state flag for Mississippi originated as a joke and was only included in a list of finalists due to a typo, according to officials.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is currently narrowing down options to replace its current flag after lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from its current version. The MDAH recently revealed its finalists after accepting over 1,000 submissions for possible flag redesigns.
In an internet-age situation reminiscent of the Boaty McBoatFace naming, one of the finalists that quickly drew viral attention and support was a joke flag that features a giant mosquito at the center.
Mississippi resident Thomas Rosete told the Clarion Ledger that he designed and submitted the mosquito flag as a joke on a coworker who didn't want the flag changed. Rosete works as a deckhand on the Yazoo River and said he is familiar with the state's large mosquito population and thought they are fitting to represent the state.
“I believe people from all backgrounds can get behind this and raise it proudly,” Rosete told the Clarion Ledger. “I said something like that in the [submission] email. And now I actually do believe that.”
The Associated Press reported that many rallied around the flag online saying that what started as mocking support was no longer "ironic," and they really liked the flag.
“Personally, I love the Mosquito Flag. ... the cheekyness of it is on brand,” one Mississippi resident tweeted.
“I’m slowly realizing my love for the mosquito flag might not even be ironic,” another said. “It’s so bad it’s good. I would proudly fly the mosquito.”
But dreams were dashed on Tuesday when the MDAH clarified that the flag was not meant to be a finalist.
“The mosquito flag advanced to Round Two due to a typo in a list of flag numbers submitted by one commissioner,” the agency said in a statement. “That commissioner has requested that the flag be removed from the Round Two gallery, and MDAH staff has complied."
The statement was met with disappointment. One Mississippi journalist tweeted, "Fly high, mosquito flag," while another resident wrote on Twitter that "the mosquito flag is destined to be in that round!”
The commission plans to have its vote on the final flag on Sept. 2 after narrowing it down on Friday to the top five flags.