A John Wall jersey. (Courtesy Mia Khalifa)
A John Wall jersey. (Courtesy Mia Khalifa)

Think, for a second, about the most famous fans of D.C. sports teams. There’s Wolf Blitzer and Chris Wallace, Luke Russert and David Gregory, Alan Greenspan and Chuck Todd, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, Charles Krauthammer and Ben Bernanke. These are household names in many cases, important and serious men from Official Washington. But they’re not exactly Jack Nicholson or Spike Lee.

Which isn’t to say D.C. teams have no celebrity supporters. The Redskins have Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Durant and Matthew McConaughey. The Caps can point to Pat Sajak and Lynda Carter. The Nats have, uh, Bill Nye? Georgetown has Bradley Cooper. Maryland has ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. And there are more. But these are not, by and large, supporters of the whole swath of Washington sports.

And so who might be the most influential person to tweet something like this: “Wizards won, Caps won, Lookin’ at you, Skins! Let’s go 3 for 3 in DC tonight!” Or tweet a video of a Jayson Werth postgame interview, post comments on a Redskins Periscope stream, swap off-color insults with Penguins fans and be pictured on a pop culture website wearing a John Wall jersey?

I think the answer might be Mia Khalifa. Not familiar? That’s the pseudonym for a Lebanese-born 23-year-old who grew up in Montgomery County, earned worldwide attention after a brief stint as an adult actress and now calls herself a “social media personality” with more than a million Twitter followers plus nearly 300,000 on Instagram — and who can’t stop talking about D.C. sports teams.

I know, this seems weird. But who else would get hundreds and hundreds of likes for a “Heartbroken” tweet after the Caps’ Game 6 loss in Pittsburgh? Or, uh, for an image of Alex Ovechkin photoshopped into her bosom?

“Since I gained a social media platform, I decided right away that I want to bring as much attention to Maryland and D.C. and the DMV area as I can,” Khalifa said in a phone interview this week. “I want to promote D.C. sports. I want to promote how amazing Maryland is and how gorgeous D.C. is and how great of a city it is. Because that’s home. Other than Wale, it’s not very well-represented [in certain circles]. So I want to help out with that. I really care about D.C.”

Is she helping make D.C. sports fandom cool?

“I hope I am,” she said. “Is it working? Do you think it’s working? I mean, I do get a lot of responses saying damn, now I’m a Caps fan, or damn, I should root for the Wizards; things like that. So I hope it’s working.”

A Sean Taylor jersey (Courtesy Mia Khalifa) A Sean Taylor jersey (Courtesy Mia Khalifa)

Let me pause here for you to gather your thoughts on the rise and fall of The Washington Post sports section and the general coarsening of our public discourse, and possibly to send off an angry letter to the editor. All good? Swell.

Because what interests me is the way Khalifa, with her massive fan base, can steer hordes of followers toward teams that don’t always get such attention. She frequently retweets @recordsandradio, a popular Twitter account focusing on D.C. sports. When she retweeted an image from @BurgundyBlog in January, it became that Redskins site’s biggest-ever tweet. This spring, she began tweeting stories from Caps blog Russian Machine Never Breaks — “usually something that was doing pretty well, and then went crazy” after the Khalifa bump, wrote Ian Oland, one of the founders of the site.

When I told her that the editors there appreciated her readership, she said it made her day that they even knew about her. Why does she focus on smaller local accounts rather than ESPN or Bleacher Report?

“To help them out, since I can,” she wrote. “My version of the ‘shop local’ movement.”

Being a part of that strange community of Washington sports fans “matters to me because it makes me feel like I’m closer to home,” she went on, “like I’m a part of something bigger than myself.”

And so ignore her past references to out-of-town franchises. Since her rise to fame, she’s posted images of herself in an assortment of D.C. jerseys: John Wall’s and Bradley Beal’s, Alex Ovechkin’s and Sean Taylor’s. She promised to name her first-born “Braden” if the Caps won the Stanley Cup, and she wrote about convincing a bar in Miami to put the Caps playoff game on its main TV, a struggle familiar to Washingtonians. Like many of you, she posts You Like That and #RocktheRed and #HTTR and #DCRising, and she directed angry messages at the NHL after Ovechkin was suspended for missing last year’s All-Star Game. Her Twitter background photo currently features her wearing an Andre Burakovsky jersey; she may be the most famous person ever to pose in an Andre Burakovsky jersey, including Andre Burakovsky.

As it turns out, I can’t republish that last image here, because the aforementioned Burakovsky jersey did not quite manage to cover up Khalifa’s backside. Which brings us to one of the strangest parts of this phenomenon: It isn’t entirely G-rated. When she tweeted at Redskins linebackers Will Compton and Mason Foster, they wound up getting pornographic replies. I wouldn’t recommend viewing her account at work, and was kind of nervous researching this item in the office, if I’m being honest. Which is probably why Khalifa hasn’t been celebrated by local teams the way their other celebrity fans have.

“Honestly, I think the teams try to separate themselves from me because of the reputation of being a former adult actress, which I totally understand and respect,” she said. “But I’m still gonna support them.”

Khalifa said she only did adult acting for three months, and that she stopped more than a year ago, although her social media account is still a bit more risque than that of, say, Ben Bernanke.

“I guess it was my rebellious phase,” she said. “It wasn’t really for me. I kind of smartened up and tried to distance myself from that.”

She has a more normal job now, she said, and recently relocated from Florida to Texas. But she’s maintained her massive social-media presence — which still brings in additional income — and said she wants to use that prominence in part to celebrate her hometown sports teams.

She said she arrived in America when she was 10, and learned to follow the Redskins from cousins who were fans. She played lacrosse in high school, in the early days of the Ovechkin era, and the similarity of the sports and the allure of those Rock the Red teams led to her massive Caps fandom. As a middle-schooler, she chose the Nats over the Orioles based on their uniforms, but she also associates more with Washington than Baltimore. And when she came home for a Caps game that was snowed out last season, she instead wound up at a Wizards game. She’s also regularly attended road games featuring D.C. teams, and has the Center Ice package to follow the Caps from afar.

“I was a big D.C. sports fan obviously when I lived there, but when I moved away — even when I was in college in Texas — it was a taste of home to me,” she said. “It cured my homesickness, it made me feel like I was still a part of D.C.” The teams, she said, have come to occupy “just a bigger, warmer place in my heart.”

She’s also part of D.C.’s Loss Generation, those 20-somethings who don’t remember the Redskins Super Bowls and have had precious few titles to celebrate. She said this has never led to despair or pessimism but rather empathy; “Oh God, I feel so bad for them, especially the Capitals,” she said. “I’m never mad at them when they lose. I just want Ovechkin to get a Cup.”

But no one, she said, can call her a bandwagon fan, and she has no plans to give up on her Washington fandom. Why?

“I love representing D.C. and their sports teams everywhere I go, and I try to do it as best and as hard as I can.”

That’s what she said. No, seriously, that’s what she said.