(CNN Spanish) — You can give him different names: magic, effect, madness and others, but always with the surname that has taken control of Miami these days: Messi. The magic of Messi, the Messi effect, the madness of Messi, all can be used to describe what residents and visitors to South Florida have experienced since the arrival of the Argentine soccer star at Inter Miami was announced.
There was a lot of talk about the sold out at the ticket offices to see him play in the team’s shirt, which is now selling like hot cakes, and about the Inter fans, who have multiplied since the announcement. To all this, which is already a reflection of what Lionel Messi’s presence in Miami means, we add food, drink and art. The city is experiencing a particular moment, and small and large entrepreneurs, as well as artists, know how to take advantage of it.
The best photo
Strolling through Wynwood, Miami’s renowned art district, with buildings and facades transformed into canvases and world-famous artists showing their best works, and running into Messi’s face today is almost a must.
“Everything counts,” said Paco Alba, a Mexican tourist, after snapping his picture on one of the Messi murals. “If you don’t have to see it, at least come here and take your picture,” he says.
Tourists and residents go to every corner in search of the best photo. Some take off their shirt with Messi’s number 10, strike a pose and keep the memory forever.
One of the murals, the first to be done in Wynwood, its creator says, was designed in three days. Venezuelan artist Arlex Ocampo says he painted athletes for 10 years and dreamed of this moment. And he found the best place to immortalize his creation on a wall almost five meters high. Ocampo explains that he used the stencil technique, with the use of templates to generate an image. Above is the Inter shirt, below that of his national team. “We leave you the detail of the Argentina shirt”, explains the artist, in homage to the recent world champion.
A few blocks from there, an Argentinian who says he has traveled the world taking portraits of sports stars such as Diego Maradona, Max Verstappen, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, and has spent the last few months dedicating his talent to Messi. Maximiliano Bagnasco recounts that every day – morning and afternoon – he arrives in Wynwood, climbs onto the crane and, with temperatures exceeding 35 degrees, begins to paint one of his idols. “It’s the first time I’ve painted something this big here at Wynwood, and I know a lot of people want it. You paint Messi, and right now… wow, that’s an amazing revolution,” he told CNN.
Maxi ―as he likes to be called― still doesn’t know the Argentinian player and believes it is unlikely that it will happen, but assures that a few days ago he already experienced an unforgettable moment, when while making this mural he received a visit from the Englishman David Beckham, owner of Inter Miami and former soccer player. He says that while he doesn’t want to bother Messi by asking to see his creation, “it would be nice if he showed up by surprise.” For now, he’s happy to see how his current workplace has become a must-visit spot and a key to photos of locals and visitors alike.
A burger inspired by Messi
The art wasn’t just on the walls and it moved onto the table. Restaurants and bars pay homage to Messi the way they know best: by preparing dishes inspired by him.
This is the case of La Birra Bar, a restaurant specializing in hamburgers, located in the heart of the Argentine community living in Miami. On 10 July, as a tribute to the 10th anniversary of the Argentine team, he added the Messy Burger to his menu.
“Messy,” which means disorder in English, plays the pun with which they decided to call her to avoid problems for the use of her name. This burger is made with Argentinian beef, pategras cheese, bacon, churri mayonnaise – a mixture of mayonnaise and chimichurri – and brioché bread, crowned with a flag that reads “It’s not football, it’s fulbo”, which in Spanish translates as “Not it’s football, it’s fulbo,” how Messi refers to the sport, says its owner, Daniel Cocchia. “With that and a little more, we’re launching this product into the field to honor the best, Leo,” he says.
GOAT, the greatest of all time
And what better companion to the high temperatures South Florida is experiencing these days than a cold beer, says Juan Pipkin, owner of Prison Pals. Argentinian, professional racing driver and now creator of GOAT, the beer in honor of Messi, Pipkin explains that his label design is “an emulation of the Miami team jersey with the number 10, its crest and, of course, the most greatest of all time”, whose acronym is GOAT and which in Spanish means the greatest of all time.
There are two beers with the same flavour, one pink and one black, with the colors of the home and reserve jerseys of Inter Miami.
Immediately after hearing the news of Messi’s arrival in the team and in the city, good Argentines and businessmen put their creativity and love of football into play to create this product. “Beer has exploded, everyone wants it. It’s a collectible thing, I think, and other than that the product is good,” says Pipkin.
These are just a few examples of Messi’s magic, spin and madness in Miami. The city dresses in pink and black, as well as the albiceleste of the Argentine team. Locals dream of seeing it and visitors of having a memory. Miami has acquired a new dynamic and now, overnight, soccer, thanks also to Lionel Messi, has become one of the major attractions of him.