"It started as a joke," Sinker said of the Twitter handle @mayoremanuel, who created the fake account in September for Rahm Emanuel. Sinker, an assistant professor of digital journalism at Columbia College, said @mayoremanuel, which was more popular online that Emanuel's real account, got its start out of sheer boredom.
"My wife and my kid were in bed and it was just one of those crazy things, this-will-be-funny, kind of moment. There was nothing beyond that," Sinker said.
By the end of the first day, @mayoremanuel had 200 followers on twitter. By the second day, he had 1,000 more. Almost 40,000 people were reading Sinker's fake Emanuel rants by Election Day. @mayoremanuel began with foul-mouthed insults about all things campaign related. Even the real Emanuel was a fan.
"I got to give him credit. They could have written twitter and had this thing shut down the minute I started," said Sinker.
As time passed, the character grew into a mini-soap opera told in 140 character installments. When the real Emanuel was booted from the ballot, the fake Emanuel was at the depths of despair, living beneath a bridge with a dog and a duck named Quaxelrod.
The story ended last week when @mayoremanauel was kidnapped by Mayor Daley and brought to Chicago City Hall's rooftop garden. There, Daley shared his secrets. Then @mayoremanuel disappeared.
Since then, Sinker had remained anonymous -- worried he'd be found out by prying eyes while tweeting on his commute -- despite a plea from followers to reveal himself and an offer from the real Emanuel to come forward for a $5,000 charitable donation.
"I think it's great. I'll have more to say in the days to come but I'm glad -- I suppose I can use this phrase -- he's out," Emanuel told ABC7.
"Until you guys showed up at my front door, it felt really relaxing," Sinker said to ABC 7. Now Sinker is receiving tweets from White House correspondents for the major TV networks.
Now Sinker has a real life lesson to teach his Columbia College students about becoming an online legend.
"It got very hard to keep a secret," Sinker said.