Eight years ago, I registered Pope Benedict XVI's domain name three weeks before he was selected pope. Because of this achievement in pontification, I was invited to be on the Today Show, where Katie Couric called me the popesquatter in front of millions of people.
This made me as big a celebrity as the Virgin Mary viaduct stain -- but it only lasted 36 hours. Just when I started getting used to all the attention and began making plans to hire a publicist and have my teeth capped, a woman fell on the ice singing the National Anthem and sucked up all my fame.
Today at 11:30 a.m. Eastern, 115 Cardinals will lock themselves in the Sistine Chapel and won't come out until they've chosen a new pope. Any male Catholic is eligible -- I'm hoping to get one or two votes in the first round -- and when they have reached a two-thirds majority to select someone, he is asked whether he'll take the job. If he says "accepto," he immediately announces his new name.
In the hopes of continuing my reign as popesquatter, I have the following names as dot-com domains:
- Clement XV
- Innocent XIV
- John Paul III
- Leo XIV
- Paul VII
- Pius XIII
Five of these are because I couldn't bring myself to drop them after the last pope-a-palooza. I acquired the sixth, John Paul III, for $75 in 2009.
The Irish betting site Paddy Power has Leo as the favorite at 3-to-1, followed by Peter at 2-to-1, Gregory at 6-to-1 and Pius at 8-to-1.
Don't pray for me to win, because it could be considered tampering.
I wish I had Joseph I, but some other popesquatter wants $1,695 for it. I'm tempted to buy it, but that's too expensive when you factor in the cost of a divorce once my wife finds out.
I like Joseph as a longshot, even though it has never been used before. Because Jesus' dad was a carpenter, Pope Joseph I would have instant working-class cred.
I acquired John Paul III because the Vatican has a tradition of picking a pope who differs from the last one, a sentiment they express with the saying "always follow a fat pope with a skinny pope." Pope John Paul II was charismatic, talented and universally popular -- choosing his name is like picking Justin Timberlake to host Saturday Night Live.
A reporter for the French edition of Slate asked me how much it cost to own these domains. At $13 a year apiece over eight years for six pontiffs, I've paid $624. I never did the math before. Good lord that's a waste of money.
In keeping with tradition, if I win I will issue a list of demands.