Andrew Gillum was already a rising political star in the Democratic party heading into Labor Day thanks to a charismatic campaign and unexpected victory in a crowded and competitive primary for Florida governor.
And then he made an apparent cameo in a cartoon music video published over the weekend by one of America's hottest pop stars.
Gillum's purported appearance in Childish Gambino's "Feels Like Summer" — the candidate is seen eating ice cream in a brown suit on a park bench — was picked up by music and pop culture blogs as the video began to take off on YouTube, where more than 14 million people have watched it in less than three days. It was so subtle and brief that it was easy to miss, the way that so many polls missed Gillum's meteoric last-minute rise to victory in the Democratic primary.
But the cameo hardly feels accidental, and could portend a new dynamic in an already unconventional campaign.
Over the course of Gillum's run for governor, the 39-year-old Tallahassee mayor has leaned on pop culture. He made Migos' "Walk It Talk It" his campaign theme song, for lack of a better description. And in the days leading up to his upset primary win against four better-funded candidates, he scored social media endorsements from the likes of rappers Rick Ross and P. Diddy and actress Tracee Ellis Ross.
"This is the man I'll be voting for. Join me Florida!" actress Gabrielle Union, the wife of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, tweeted the Sunday before the Aug. 28 primary election.
Celebrity endorsements are nothing new in politics, especially in the Democratic party, which enjoys widespread support from Hollywood. If anything, there's been something of a backlash in American politics against the perception that starlets are stacking the deck against "everyday" Americans.
But if that really is Gillum in the new Childish Gambino video, look out.
A screen grab from the "Feels Like Summer" video posted over the weekend to Childish Gambino's YouTube account shows what bloggers say is Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
Evidence suggests that Gillum, who is African American, was able to win partly due to his ability to turn out previously apathetic and unlikely voters.
His campaign appears to have benefited from the support of groups like NextGen America, which is spending millions in Florida courting young voters, and from his connection with black communities as the state's would-be first black governor.
Meanwhile, Childish Gambino, the stage name for performance artist and writer Donald Glover, watched his own star explode this summer with the release of This is America, a one-off political music video heavy on themes of race and gun violence that's been viewed nearly 400 million times on the artist's YouTube account. A decision to include Gillum in one of his videos could have a ripple effect, in which Gillum's political celebrity crosses over into pop culture, a la Barack Obama.