REVIEW EXCLUSIVE—Catch Him if You Can: Meet Will Curry

REVIEW EXCLUSIVE—Catch Him if You Can: Meet Will Curry

On a Tuesday evening after sunset in early spring quarter, I met a young man at the Palo Alto Creamery after talking through Instagram. I waited outside the Creamery for some time until a man dressed in a gray hoodie and sweatpants, black Warby Parkers, white Nikes, and a beard approached me, stuck out his hand, and said, "Hi, I'm Will Curry."

Standing in front of me just minutes from campus was the same Will Curry who pretended to be a Stanford student for almost a year: he lived in the campus dorms, befriended students, and, after being discovered, captured the attention of the nation. While at Stanford, he not only lived on campus and hung around various dorms, but he “became” a Stanford student, changing his lifestyle and social media profiles to reflect his new identity. His Instagram, LinkedIn, Tinder, and Facebook all showed his status as a Stanford sophomore, class of 2025. His profile picture? Donning Stanford merch with his friends.

When the Stanford Daily broke the news about Will Curry, the campus imposter, national media outlets quickly picked up the story. The story of a young man so seemingly eager and desperate to join the ranks of Stanford grabbed the attention of the New York Post, Daily Mail, Daily Beast, LA Times, Washington Post, and more. Curry pulled off a modern-day DiCaprio-style “Catch Me if You Can.”

But the Review was able to secure something none of those other outlets were able to: a face to face interview with Curry himself. Inside the Creamery, he ordered a mocha chip milkshake and we shared french fries, and thus began my first of many interviews with perhaps the best known person on Stanford’s campus; a man who isn’t even a Stanford student. I spent over a month getting to know Will, meeting and talking with him to learn his story. While he is no DiCaprio, Will’s story may be equally fascinating: a classical pianist, poker extraordinaire, crypto-investor, and now infamous imposter.

Many of us made assumptions about who we thought this young man was like, but in my interactions with Will, I was impressed with the personability and likeability of the young man. He was mature and respectful—just like any ‘real’ student I might meet at Stanford. Despite his nebulous journey and stories, he seems to care about the people around him and desire to live a good life. There’s a lot of information, rumors, and drama about all that happened to dig through; it’s nearly impossible to set it all straight.

We may never know the full truth, but we believe it’s worth hearing the story from his perspective from our exclusive interviews with Will Curry himself. Here’s the story of Will Curry:

Growing Up

Will Curry grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, where he eventually graduated from high school and eventually left for Stanford. One of Will’s young interests as a kid was the violin, but he never quite stuck with the instrument. His early experience with the violin, however, would be quite formative in his musical journey later on. Through violin, he learned to read and hear music, eventually leading to his current interest in classical piano.

Will had a normal American high school experience filled with plenty of friends, sports, trips, and activities. He ran on the school’s track team, running the 400-meter dash, 300 hurdles, and 4x400 relay; his stats are easily found online. Vestavia Hills’ Track and Field Instagram account shows plenty of pictures of Will on the pedestal.

Will’s interest in track, something that had also been an integral part of Will’s Stanford identity, began in 7th grade. He had told some people at Stanford that he was a student-athlete on the Stanford track team and a transfer from Duke. In high school he quickly ascended to the varsity team and made state meets. And he was tough. He recounted that during his freshman year, he broke his ankle, and was not due to come back until three months. He made it back out to the track in just three weeks.

Will was also a capable student. So when senior year rolled around and it came time to apply to colleges, Will, like the rest of his classmates, applied to several, and got into several nearby SEC schools. He said he was accepted by Auburn, Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Mississippi State—reputable schools to choose from, but not Stanford. These schools surely offered a plethora of opportunities and a vibrant social life, an ode to his work and determination in high school. Will says that he never applied to Stanford, though. Will told me that he knew his GPA and ACT scores weren’t strong enough for Stanford. Stanford came along later.

Will graduated from Vestavia Hills High School in 2021, but he didn’t want to take the traditional four-year college-to-job path that the rest of his classmates were taking. He told me that didn’t want to work for a boss; he wanted to work for himself. He wanted something different, but he still wanted the ability to socialize with people his age. And who could blame him, anyways? He didn’t want to get stuck in the monotony of the post-college 9-to-5. Why not do something different?

While still in high school, Will claims to have made considerable money from crypto. An example he gave: investing in Dogecoin in March 2021. Early on, he discovered that he could be successful on his own through taking risks and seeking business ventures. But Will was still just a high school senior, so for a while, Will put on the persona that he would be going to college, knowing, however, that he wasn’t going to go.

Will said that he didn’t really know much about Stanford; he wasn’t infatuated with the university and so determined to get in that he flew across the entire country just to fake it.

However, in one picture with his Alabama friends back home, Will is donning a Stanford shirt, seeming to suggest that Will did have some thoughts about Stanford before coming to California. When I asked Will about this, he said that the idea of Stanford came up sort of jokingly with friends, but that his decision to come out to Palo Alto wasn’t because he had planned to fake being a Stanford student the whole time.

Will could have gone anywhere. He says he is a spontaneous person who does things just because he wants to. He chose California and said that he had Stanford in the back of his mind when he did, but Stanford wasn’t a large factor in his decision to move out west. Soon after coming to the area, though, he decided to put on the full Stanford identity and pursue his ever-growing love for poker. And it’s paid off so far.

From Birmingham to Palo Alto

Coming out to live in Palo Alto, though, is no cheap decision. A quick Zillow search to find one the smallest homes will still yield a price of at least one million. So how’d he do it? After all, this is the man who students claim managed to never repeat an outfit.

Will’s father initially purchased him an apartment in Palo Alto, which he had throughout his Stanford adventures and still lives in today. After some support from his family, his crypto wallet and poker earnings appear to have provided Will with a considerable source of income to keep him sustained on his own. So Will didn’t live on campus out of desperation or a lack of money; he had a considerable source of income.

He said that he invested in a crypto startup in the Bay Area and made a good bit off of it. He’s since pulled all his assets out, though. Fascinating: the kid who impersonated the Stanford student seems to be doing the thing all the Stanford students wish they were doing.

His eventual journey to the elusive rooms of Stanford dormitories wasn’t out of desperation or necessity; it was because of a desire for friendship and community. Will ventured across the country to Silicon Valley, surely no easy transition from the suburbs of Birmingham. After coming to the new area, Will joined Tinder. It was a way that he could meet women and maybe some friends his age in the area as well. He would often match with Stanford students, and he slowly became familiar with parts of the campus and the culture. He seems to know campus quite well. He only officially dated one person at Stanford, but he said that he had relationships with five other Stanford students.

While Will was living in Palo Alto, and keeping in touch with his friends from back home, he began to wonder whether he was missing out on the college experience he had previously turned down. His newfound Stanford matches and friends from back home seemed to be having a great time in college.

So as Will matched with more Stanford students, he realized that maybe it would just be easier if he was a Stanford student. A label he put on a dating app to meet more women eventually turned into the lie he lived in. He said he was never attracted to Stanford because he was rejected from the school or because of its high reputation. Rather, Will says that he discovered that he could live the college experience right here, just by blending in as a student. It would be easier to meet women, easier to make friends, and he would get to live the college lifestyle for some time. So after beginning to tell a few people that he was a true Stanford student, he decided to fully take on the Stanford identity. Why not?

His Stanford journey began around the end of 2021, and he stayed in several different dorms on campus throughout his time. He quickly met his now ex-girlfriend, whom he dated throughout those first few months on campus, and he continued to develop relationships with other students. Faking the status of a Stanford student may seem like a daunting task. All of Stanford’s buildings require a keycard and he would have to join the already-established friend groups and dorm communities that formed in the beginning of fall quarter. He would also have to evade security, of course. So why not? In Will’s own words: “Stanford security sucks.” Now was Will’s chance to put all his chips on the table, and take a risky gamble.

Throughout Will’s nearly one-year long stint impersonating a Stanford student without actually getting banned, he had a Stanford girlfriend, made many friends, continued his investments, and pursued his growing passion for poker. He had told his friends back in Alabama that he was going to Stanford too, and when they had their doubts, he took a picture with a real student from his high school who really went to Stanford to quell their suspicions.

Welcome to Stanford

Will didn’t rush into joining the ranks and dorms of Stanford. His journey took time from Palo Alto to the notorious Crothers dorm where he finally got caught. He started by hanging out with friends in the dorm, saw some empty rooms, and slowly but surely morphed into the “Stanford student” he became. But Will said that he didn’t frequently eat at the dining halls or steal a keycard to get access to all the buildings. Through his friend groups that he developed on campus and Stanford’s poor security, Will was able to easily maintain his Stanford identity.

In early 2022 he lived in Murray Hall, getting to know and playing poker with athletes he befriended. He would jump around to other dorms after suspicions arose or he got informally kicked out. Sometimes he would just hang around during the day. At other times, he would stay overnight in the dorm spaces (or empty rooms). Will said he never stole a keycard either. He said that he only used one when a friend let him borrow it to grab his sushi order from the delivery driver. Otherwise, he said that people never really asked about his lack of a student keycard.

But, it all ended in October 2022, nearly a year after he moved in. As the story goes, Will was caught after stealing one of the TV’s in the Crothers Hall basement.

Soon after Will was officially banned from campus after getting kicked out of Crothers dorm, the Stanford Daily covered the story, and shortly after, national news outlets quickly picked up the story. When the story originally dropped at the end of 2022, Will left Palo Alto for some time to recuperate, traveling to other parts of the country to play poker and get away from the Stanford drama.

He was all over the news, but he said it really hit him when he was on Good Morning America. I asked him what his family and friends thought when they probably saw him on the headline of news stories. He told me that some of his friends sent him articles and that his father had only told him to make sure he got the situation figured out—not much. He had over 700 follow requests and hundreds of direct messages on Instagram. He didn’t come back to Palo Alto until February of 2023, where he soon reemerged in Stanford’s ‘West Campus.’

Who is Will?

Will’s fascinating journey from a typical high school graduate from Alabama to a Stanford imposter who captured the attention of the nation. Students at Stanford strive to live interesting and exciting lives as they create needless startups and pretend their lives are more interesting than they truly are. Despite his questionable actions, Will accomplished something that most students at Stanford strive for yet rarely seem to actually achieve: he lives an interesting and exciting life.

After watching “Catch Me If You Can,” many (myself included) develop a strange reverence for Frank Abagnale Jr., the protagonist portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. In the movie, Frank’s genius led him to pursue a life of exciting adventures, although all through fraud. For Frank, and maybe for Will too, it was just too easy and too exciting not to. The other side was a monotonous 9-to-5. Some may call it sociopathic behavior, and maybe it is, but both Frank and Will represent a rare, genius-like personality that actually lives the exciting life that most desire.

But behind the imposter who lived on Stanford’s campus for nearly a year, Will Curry is an even more fascinating character. Now a classical pianist by hobby, Will developed a passion for classical piano around the time that he came to Stanford. And he is quite talented after only playing for a year and a half. Currently, his favorite song to play is Golden Hour by JVKE, a very impressive song to be able to play on piano. When I asked him what he had to say about classical piano, he said that Beethoven is overrated. He later added, "I would say my true thoughts about playing piano is: it's something I can do to kind of get away from the world and be in my own little bubble or space, gives me a sense of comfort."

But perhaps one of the most important aspects of Will is his love for poker. When talking to Will, it is clear that poker is his passion. Will says he has made upwards of $300,000 from poker. I originally heard rumors of Will gambling (and losing) lots of money at casinos with his Stanford friends when the ‘Will Curry’ story first was revealed. He not only enjoys the game, but he studies and dwells with the sport. He showed me screenshots some of his poker earnings; he has made (and lost) tens of thousands of dollars in various months.

If I had to sum up Will in a single word, it would be “poker.” He’s a very sociable, yet secretive young man who lives his life on the edge, like a game of poker. Sometimes, he just decides to go all in, whether that be in a poker tournament or illegally moving into an empty room in Crothers.

The classical piano and poker extraordinaire not only adds to his allure, but go hand-in-hand with a man who is able to fake a college identity for nearly a year all while maintaining romantic relationships and building friendships under false premises.

Will’s Future

At the end of 2021 through the early part of 2022, Will had a Stanford girlfriend. Reports in the Stanford Daily contain various claims that Will harassed his ex-girlfriend. I also talked to her, a current undergraduate student at Stanford. Will’s ex-girlfriend made many of the same allegations in the Stanford Daily and depicted Will as someone with serious problems and issues that led him to lie about his identity for nearly a year. However, after I had the chance to speak with both Will and his ex-girlfriend, both of them still seemed to care for one another; neither of them desired to see the other hurt or exposed.

One of the reasons that Will was originally willing to talk to me was because he believes that many of the allegations are false. He also thinks that the journalist who reported on it first, Theo Baker of the Stanford Daily, had not been entirely fair in his reporting. We gave Will the opportunity to respond to these claims and his concerns.

After the allegations of harassment and stalking made by his ex-girlfriend in the Stanford Daily, Will said:

I would ask any woman who thinks I’ve treated them wrong in the past to come forward. Firstly, I want to apologize to anybody who was under the assumption that I was a student here. Secondly, if you felt like I did anything wrong or treated you poorly, then please come forward. I would want you to come forward if I did anything wrong to you. I know for a fact many women could come forward and say that I’ve treated them with utmost respect.

Will also felt that Theo Baker’s reporting had not accurately depicted his story.  On this topic he said:

I respect his job to do his journalism aspect of the job but I would think that he should and could do a better job of getting the facts straight before he goes to publish it only to be the first one to get it out and publish the story. If he were to go back and talk to the people who knew me, he would have a completely different article.
There were aspects of it that were true, but there were aspects that were just falsified. Before you rush out and just put out the article, he needs to make sure he gets his facts straight. I would expect you to do a good job on publishing what you know to be true, but if you’re publishing false information, that looks bad on you as well as your parents.

Will Curry’s story is long and complex—but most of all, enthralling. He is a living story of someone who lived the adventurous life that so many desire yet never actually live, including many at Stanford trapped in a culture of monotony. Is all of the story he told me true? Maybe, or maybe not. Will is, after all, a competitive poker player who has pulled off bluffs in the past. But regardless, Will’s story is far from over. In fact, I think it’s really only begun.

We’ll never know his next move. In fact, he was just removed from Santa Clara University just earlier this month after hanging around the campus. Will said that he never impersonated being a Santa Clara student, he merely spent time around the campus and with students, yet the university still banned him. Definitely an understandable decision given his record.

But while we may never know Will’s next move, I am quite certain that the poker extraordinaire, classical pianist, and college imposter, William Curry, has many more gambles yet to make.

Catch him if you can.

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