California resident Matty Roberts, who created the Facebook page “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” revealed his identity Wednesday to KLAS-TV of Las Vegas.
“I posted it on like June 27th and it was kind of a joke," Roberts said. "And then it waited for like three days, like 40 people, and then it just completely took off, out of nowhere. It’s pretty wild.”
The page calls for a public invasion of the secret Air Force-run facility near Groom Lake, Nev., on Sept. 20 at 3 a.m. The facility has been the subject of alien conspiracy theories for decades.
As signatories for the page climbed higher, Roberts said he grew worried the FBI would pay him a visit.
“The FBI is going to show up at my house and it got a little spooky from there,” he said.
Roberts had previously communicated with NPR through Facebook Messenger, but under a pseudonym for fear of harassment.
“I just thought it would be a funny idea for the meme page,” he said. “And it just took off like wildfire. It’s entirely satirical though, and most people seem to understand that.”
As of Wednesday, Robert’s page has garnered 1.5 million pledges from around the world to join the effort and another 1.1 million “Interested.”
Meanwhile, publicity of the story has been good for surrounding businesses.
Joerg Arnu, who lives near Area 51 and runs a website that focuses on military secrecy, told KLAS he’s seen a huge spike in traffic.
“I used to get about 500 to 600 hits a day,” he said. “Right now, I’m getting up to 3,000 a day.”
Connie West, owner of Little A’Le’Inn, which sells alien-themed food and novelty items, said her rooms are fully booked through the Sept. 20 target date.
“I’m just a little scared, but bring it,” she said. “We’ll do our best. I don’t believe they should be doing this and breaking the law. Just don’t believe that.”
The momentum has prompted the Air Force, which runs the installation, to respond and caution UFO enthusiasts against invading the area.
"[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces. ... The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets," spokeswoman Laura McAndrews told The Washington Post.
Fox News' David Montanaro contributed to this report.