By Jesse Marx
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By CP Staff
The last month has been a crazy time for Sam Rosenwinkel, the 24-year-old star of the Duluth muffin mace video that has become a huge YouTube hit.
For instance, he was out for lunch with his girlfriend recently when two women vacationing in Duluth from Colorado approached him. They had seen the video before leaving for Minnesota and asked Rosenwinkel to pose for photos with them.
Asked about whether his newfound celebrity makes him uncomfortable, Rosenwinkel says, "It doesn't bother me, but my girlfriend is starting to get sick of it. She doesn't like my head getting any bigger than it already is about it."
Rosenwinkel's unexpected emergence as star of the internet's hottest video of the moment was kicked off by an equally crazy night. Prior to his fateful trip to SuperAmerica just before 2 a.m. on the morning of Monday, January 7, Rosenwinkel was out at a bar with a friend when he was blindsided by a very large man in a case of mistaken identity.
"I was playing pool, and next thing I knew this guy comes flying across the bar, tackles the shit out of me, and I go flying and am on my back," Rosenwinkel says.
He wrestled his assailant to the ground and was about to "whoop this guy's ass" when it dawned on him that he was at a bar owned by the same company he works for and thought better of it.
He and his friend then hopped in a cab and headed for the SuperAmerica at 602 E. Fourth St. in Duluth to buy smokes.
"Here I am, 15 minutes later, at the gas station after just being jacked at the bar, so I was like in this sense that I just got laid out by some guy for absolutely no reason — what's the worst that could happen?" Rosenwinkel says.
By now, almost all of us know what happened next: He got into an argument with the foot-dragging woman in front of him, who proceeded to spray him with mace, yelling "Don't fuck with me!" as she left.
After getting sprayed in the face with mace, Rosenwinkel said, he could barely see as he staggered out of the store and had to have his buddy help him up to his third-floor apartment. Though the pain had subsided by the next morning, his eyes remained puffy.
"I was happy the woman didn't attack me after she [maced me]," Rosenwinkel said. "I wouldn't have been able to defend myself. I'm happy she didn't wop me in the head with her sack of muffins."
Rosenwinkel still doesn't know who the muffin macer is, though the clerk told him she's a regular customer. In a state of disorientation after being sprayed, Rosenwinkel dropped a $10 bill on the floor of the convenience store. It was found by the clerk and held for him. The clerk also offered to burn a DVD of the surveillance footage for him — footage that was later posted to YouTube by Rosenwinkel himself.
Rosenwinkel talks about the muffin mace altercation and its aftermath with a light spirit and laughs, but it hasn't all been fun and games. He says he used to be a regular at the store but now avoids the place because he doesn't want to run into the muffin macer again. He said he did pop in recently for a quick purchase, and was told by the clerk, "You have no idea how many people are in here asking about you."
Asked if the muffin macer should be charged with assault, Rosenwinkel said he has mixed feelings.
"You can't just go around doing that," Rosenwinkel says. "I just like the video being out there so if people do run into this lady, it's like, 'Watch out for her. Don't antagonize her.'"
On the other hand, Rosenwinkel doesn't totally defend the way he behaved. Being in a hurry "doesn't justify me being rude," he says. "I'm usually really good with people like that in public. If I were to ever come across that situation again or a similar person like that ... I'd do what any decent person would and say, 'I'm in a hurry, is it all right if I grab what I need here quick?' I'm sure she would've been the nicest lady ever, in hindsight. I wouldn't advise doing what I did just to save a couple seconds."
But whether his behavior was justified or not, Rosenwinkel's impatience that morning and everything that followed — along with the existence of surveillance footage that's so compelling it almost looks fake — has made the Chaska native and six-year Duluth resident arguably the most recognizable person in town.
"I was out a couple nights ago and there were random girls lining up to take pics with me. Everywhere I go, as soon as someone gets a look at me, they say, 'You're that guy!'"
But while he's cool with the recognition and even stopping to pose for a photo or two, there are limits.
"I haven't signed any autographs because I think that's pretty douchy."