A blue and orange box stood in the middle of Turlington Plaza.
Gator Growl staffers wearing cowboy hats and boots chanted, counting down while country music rang in the background. A crowd of more than 100 students filled the plaza to hear who would be headlining the annual Gator Growl concert.
The box was lifted up to reveal a staffer holding a sign with a picture of country music singer Chase Rice, who will headline the Homecoming concert on Oct. 4 at Flavet Field.
Youtube star and UF alum Cameron “Scooter” Magruder will host the event.
Chase Rice will be paid $65,000 and host Magruder will receive $5,000, said Gator Growl executive producer Corben Champoux.
Rice, who is a former University of North Carolina football player, is known for his song “Eyes On You” and also came in second place on the reality television show “Survivor: Nicaragua” in 2010.
Tickets can be purchased on Turlington Plaza or online through Ticketmaster, Champoux said. General admission is $25 for non-UF students and $15 for UF students. A unique code will be emailed to students to redeem the discounted price. Pit Passes, which are closest to the stage, cost $50.
An opening act will be announced at a later date, Champoux said. She declined to confirm how much Rice and Magruder would be paid. The Alligator made public records requests for the contracts.
Champoux said this year’s theme is “This is Gator Country,” which is why Rice was picked to perform. She believes the student body will react positively to the announcement.
“He’s just such a good artist and has so many top hits,” she said. “I think it’s going to go over really well.”
Sebastian Mallory, a 21-year-old english and information systems junior said he was disappointed to hear the announcement. Mallory, like some other students in the crowd, speculated that the performer might be “Old Town Road” singer Lil Nas X, who is known for wearing eccentric cowboy hats.
“Gator Growl has been hit or miss to be honest,” Mallory said. “It was the first big event I went to as a freshman, and I can imagine a lot of freshmen are going to miss out on the event because they’ll be turned off either by the genre or the relatively unknown headliner.”
Meanwhile, some country music fans are excited to see Rice perform.
Bailey Cadden, a 20-year-old UF early childhood education junior, was recruiting for her sorority Theta Alpha on Turlington Plaza when she heard the announcement. Cadden said she’s a fan of Rice.
“I think it’s nice to change it up a little bit from the other music styles they have had in the past,” Cadden said. “I like country music, so I think it’ll be fun.”
This article has been updated to include how much the performer will be paid.