Pub quiz sensation says he still goes to quizzes with his friends

·3 min read

A man who has fundraised more than £1 million for charity by holding online pub quizzes has said his relationship with quizzing has not changed despite his huge success.

Johnny Flynn, known as Jay, became a sensation during lockdown when his virtual pub quiz went viral after he mistakenly set a Facebook event to public instead of private and attracted half a million people.

The online pub quizzes, which at their peak attracted 180,000 people, still take place twice a week and have around 20,000 players.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Mr Flynn received the honour from the Duke of Cambridge (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But the 39-year-old, from Darwen in Lancashire, says he still heads to his local pub with his own friends after hosting the quiz.

He described his feelings towards pub quizzes at an investiture event, where he received an MBE from the Duke of Cambridge for his services to charity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event, held at Windsor Castle, also saw Labour MP Diana Johnson receive a Damehood for her charitable and political service, and Peter Betts, who previously was the UK and EU lead negotiator in UN climate agreements, receive a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) for his services to international climate change agreements.

Mr Flynn told the PA news agency: “I still play on Thursday night. So I finish my live quiz and then I go and join my quiz team.

“I talk to 16,000 people, asking questions, and then I go and toddle off to to my local pub and sit with 30 or 40 others.

“I’ve done a couple in person, which have been great. That’s back to where it all really, really began in pubs with me hosting quizzes before.”

Asked if he wins at all, he said: “Nope. We’re on a bit of a dry spell at the moment. We’re not doing very well, I don’t know why.”

During the ceremony, he said he was “so pleased and honoured” to have had the chance to meet William.

“He told me that he has not done a quiz yet but wants to get involved,” Mr Flynn added. “I don’t think I’ll ever find out (when the duke will do a quiz) but I think he would be quite good.

“I think he’ll do really well. It’s just that great intelligence and that aura, you’ve got to be confident in a quiz to know that you’re right. I think that’s how he’ll come across.”

Mr Flynn said he believes around £1.2 million has been raised so far since he began Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz in March 2020.

Some of the charities that have benefited include NHS Charities Together, Alzheimer’s Research UK and The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, a charity which helps homeless people in London and supported Mr Flynn 12 years ago when he was rough sleeping.

“This honour is not something that ever would have entered my mind,” he said. “This is just the most incredible day ever. To have this pinned on to me, I can’t put this into words.

“I’m just a normal person, I’m the same person I was two, three and four years ago, things like this don’t happen to normal people like me.”

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