By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press Writer
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — All Liberian immigrant Mansfield Neblett wanted to do was wear his cheesehead hat to President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday at his daughter’s middle school.
The first roadblock were U.S. Secret Service agents, who initially told him the bright yellow hat in the shape of a slice of cheese usually worn by fans at Green Bay Packers games was a security risk.
“I said, ‘Then I’m not going to come,'” the 46-year-old Neblett said.
The agents relented, and there Neblett was in the last row of the gymnasium at Wright Middle School proudly wearing the hat. He was the only one with the cheesy chapeau, which stood out even more given the contrast to his dark blue business suit.
But Neblett’s dream of wearing the hat during Obama’s speech wasn’t meant to be.
Minutes before Obama took the stage, someone representing him approached Neblett and offered to get the hat signed by the president. Neblett gladly turned it over.
“I’m going to sell it on eBay!” he said with a smile.
Trouble was, the speech wrapped up, Obama left the building, and Neblett still didn’t have his hat back. He stood in the school hallway as dignitaries and others filed by, searching in vain for someone to hunt it down.
The Wisconsin State Journal later reported that Neblett’s story ended happily: the hat was returned, bearing the president’s signature.
Neblett said he wore it because he wanted to show his love for Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin has been nice to me since I came here,” he said. “I rose from being illegal to becoming an American citizen.”