Mr. Penny shares love, push-ups, inspiration with Auburn


He may be known as Mr. Penny, but Johnny Richmond's value to the Auburn community is priceless.

Richmond, a lifelong Auburn resident, can be found many Saturdays doing push-ups behind the goal line in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Richmond said he supports Auburn in every way.

"Everything I do is to support Auburn," Richmond said. "If you go to my house, everything is painted orange and blue --my truck, my yard, my weight room, everything."

Richmond said he got his famous nickname at a picnic before he was born.

"My mother said I was pinching her," Richmond said, "but everyone thought she said I was 'penny,' and that's what I've been called ever since."

Richmond, who works out five times a week, said he does 25 push-ups after every Auburn score, an idea that resulted from a vision he had approximately eight years ago.

"It was around four in the morning, and I heard this noise say 'push-up,'" Richmond said. "I looked around, and I thought I was dreaming. About the time I closed my eyes, I heard it again.

"I realized then that push-ups would be great motivation for Auburn."

Richmond said he attends as many football games as possible.

He always arrives an hour late.

"If the game starts at 2:30, I get there at 3:30, so when I get there the fans are all excited for me to walk in," Richmond said. "When we were behind at Clemson, I got there and everybody said, 'We need you, where have you been?' So I did my push-ups, and the players saw me on the screen, and it motivated them. It's not a show--it's motivation."

Richmond said he never expected to become such a recognizable figure.

"I didn't think about any of that," Richmond said. "The only thing I was thinking of was supporting Auburn and motivating the players."

Richmond said he is excited about Auburn's 12-0 season, especially the Iron Bowl win.

"Everybody was saying Alabama was going to beat us," Richmond said. "But I knew we were going to go there and shut down 101,000 fans. That was our game."

He said he never doubted Auburn would win, even when they were down by 24 points in the first half.

When he's not watching football, Richmond works as a custodian at Dean Road Middle School and as a crossing guard for Auburn City Schools.

Richmond said working with children changed his life.

"When I first came here, I was young and hostile," Richmond said, "but when you look down and see their smiling faces, it's impossible to be angry, and I realized they need to see somebody doing something positive."

Richmond said he tries to inspire college students as well.

"These kids come here from near and far, and they're away from their parents," Richmond said. "So I try to be a role model and a positive example on campus."

Richmond said his love for people has made him successful.

"I'm just a people person," Richmond said. "That's what happens when you put God first. You can't go wrong."

The main message of his Mr. Penny persona is to love everyone, he said.

"Have a positive attitude," Richmond said. "Remember that life is a fun thing. I don't have hate in my heart for no one. It's all about love and caring and sharing."

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