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Flavortown, Ohio? Over 30,000 people petition to rename Columbus for Guy Fieri

"I live in Columbus. I wish I lived in Flavortown," one supporter of the petition wrote.
Today - Season 69
Welcome to Flavortown ... Ohio?! Nathan Congleton/NBC
/ Source: TODAY

Amid widespread calls to dismantle statues and other symbols of colonialism, a petition to rename the city of Columbus, Ohio, for one of Food Network's most popular stars is quickly gaining momentum.

This week, over 33,000 people have signed a petition calling for Ohio's most populous city to be renamed "Flavortown" in honor of Guy Fieri, who was born in Columbus in 1968.

Fieri's signature catchphrase, which he often uses on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," has become ubiquitous with his on-screen persona.

While the petition has many on social media chucking and creating their own memes about what a real-life Mayor of Flavortown would do, the man behind the petition is pretty serious about changing the name of a city he once called home.

Tyler Woodbridge, a 32-year-old native Ohioan, lived in Columbus for seven years. Woodbridge, who started the petition last week, said he believes that the city of Columbus has been tarnished by its namesake. As conversations about police brutality and the history of racial inequality continue throughout the country, many are beginning to re-examine problematic figures who have been historically idolized. Christopher Columbus, said Woodbridge, is one such figure.

"Through his own diaries as a primary source, we can see the he (Columbus) subjugated, enslaved, and killed off indigenous peoples, viewing them as sub-human," Woodbridge told TODAY.

Last week, Andrew Ginther, the mayor of Columbus, announced that a statue of the polarizing figure outside City Hall would be removed and public art work would be setup in its place.

Woodbridge said he first started seeing the idea for renaming Columbus to Flavortown in various Facebook groups. At first he thought it was a total joke, but then began to realize there were some legitimate reasons for starting a petition to bring more attention to issues he cares about.

"The more I thought about it, the more it made sense," Woodbridge explained. "Columbus (the city) is a culinary crossroads, a major test market for the food industry and has some of the most diverse food options in the world."

He also said he believes that Fieri is the perfect "mascot" of the movement due to his celebrity status, brash optimism and the way he isn't afraid to be himself. The petition states that Fieri is "such a good dude, really," as further justification for renaming the city.

The petition has even attracted attention from Bud Light, which tweeted that the company will provide Bud Light Seltzer to the whole city if Columbus is renamed Flavortown.

Supporters of the petition have also taken to Twitter.

One tweeter even suggested that every statue of Christopher Columbus should be replaced with a statue of Fieri.

Woodbridge told TODAY that he believes taking a humorous approach can be an effective way to start important conversations about racism in America. He also said that he recognizes there are more important issues lawmakers need to focus on right now and isn't expecting a response from the city immediately. However, he is happy that he's been able to start a meaningful dialogue.

Even if Columbus doesn't soon become Flavortown, Woodbridge said that he's willing to support any new name for the city that elevates Black, indigenous or LGBTQ voices.

"I have a platform now and I want to do good with it," he said.