Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Megan Grass stood on the edge of the precipice and decided to go for it. Why not? She'd done scarier things. She'd auditioned to get accepted into one of the most prestigious music theater schools in America, hadn't she? She could do this.
She looked down into the croc pit and said, "I think you're so cute, and I was wondering if I could have your number?"
The object of her attention was not a 15-foot crocodile, it was the young man standing next to the crocs: Robert Irwin, the 18-year-old son of the late great Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter himself.
Robert had just finished starring, along with the crocs, in a show in the main arena of the Australia Zoo, located an hour north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast. Megan and her family, nearing the end of their two-week summer vacation Down Under, had watched the show in the stands. Afterward, Megan's dad, Mike, had taken a roundabout route to avoid the crowds and there, unexpectedly, he was.
When she'd entered the zoo, Megan, who is 19 and something of an admirer of the youngest Irwin, told her family, "If I see Robert I'm going to ask for his number."
They rolled their eyes. I mean, what were the odds he'd even be there; or that she'd actually do it?
But now …
Robert looked up when he heard his name. When she asked for his number he spoke.
"Well, I'm very flattered," he said, "Thank you — uh, where are you from?"
"America," said Megan.
"Oh great, where abouts?"
"Cool. Oh, Utah's great."
And so it went. Robert explaining that he likes people to message him on Instagram so his people can screen the messages and Megan saying she'd already direct-messaged him the night before and Robert saying, "OK, well what was your name?"
"I'll look it up."
The conversation lasted 36 seconds. Megan left satisfied. She accomplished what she came for. She'd asked for his number — and in truth, he hadn't exactly said no.
Megan and her family drifted back into the crowd, as anonymous as when they came in. They were halfway around the globe, 8,000 miles from home. Who would ever know what she just did?
That is, if Megan's mom, Leslie, hadn't filmed it on her phone.
When Megan saw her mother's video she posted it on her TikTok account so her followers — about 200 of them, mostly her friends — could see that she had actual proof.
When she went to sleep the video had 330 views.
When she woke up the next morning it had 400,000.
An hour later, 500,000. By noontime, over a million. An average of 1,500 people per minute were watching the video.
"Just for funsies I looked up 'Megan Grass Robert Irwin' on the internet," says Megan, "and there were already articles written about it; lots of them."
Articles with headlines such as "Woman goes viral on TikTok for asking Steve Irwin's son out," "Daring Tourist Asks Steve Irwin's Son For His Number at the Zoo," "Fans are going wild for the sweet way Robert Irwin reacted to an American tourist hitting on him."
Megan's dad, whose career is public relations, told her, "You know the media, this is like a current trend, a hot topic, it'll fizzle out."
But it didn't fizzle out. It turned out Megan wasn't the only one interested in Robert Irwin. "I knew he was popular," she laughs, "but we didn't realize he's considered royalty in Australia."
The "Today" show of Australia tracked the Grasses down in Port Douglas and sent a camera crew to do an interview with the "besotted American tourist."
Asked live on Australian national TV if she had a message for Robert, Megan said, "I would just tell Robert thank you so much for being so sweet about it; I think he's such a cool guy; and if he's ever in need of someone to hold a koala, I'm his girl."
The next day, Robert went on national TV and thanked her: "A big thank you to Megan, wherever she is. Kudos for the confidence to ask that. That made my entire day. That was incredibly kind. That really meant a lot, it really did."
By the time Megan flew home to Utah, her video had 7 million views. A week later, it passed 12 million, with 2.1 million likes, and no end in sight. (You can watch the video on TikTok at @megangrass12).
Megan now has over 25,000 TikTok followers.
Alas, Robert Irwin isn't one of them. At least not yet.
But the Aussie media is keeping the story alive by pointing out that Steve Irwin met his American wife, Terri, when she visited the Australia Zoo as a tourist from Oregon AND that Bindi, Robert's older sister, met her husband, Chandler Powell, an American from Florida, when he visited the zoo and went on a tour she conducted.
"Will Lightning Strike Three Times?" the Aussies want to know.
As for Megan, her plans are to resume her studies this August at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, the prestigious liberal arts school she successfully auditioned for a year ago. The Brighton High School graduate's dream is to sing on Broadway one day. She's already sung in ensembles in Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center.
And if this thing with the Irwin boy goes anywhere?
Yep, she's thought of that.
"They have Broadway shows in Sydney," she says, "If one of us is going to have to compromise, I'd do that."