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Montclair’s ‘Jersey Joe’ Dances His Way to Commencement

Graduation Spotlight: Physical Education major Joseph Lepinski slides from dorm room dancer to TikTok fame

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Jersey Joe jumps for joy.
Joseph Lepinski, better known as Jersey Joe on TikTok, shows off his dance moves and Red Hawk pride at Montclair State University prior to his Commencement with the Class of 2024. (Photo by University Photographer Mike Peters)

Just as he has done on social media for years, senior Joseph “Jersey Joe” Lepinski danced his way across the stage at Montclair State University’s Commencement 2024 on May 13 at Prudential Center.

“Montclair is where my TikTok/social media career all started, and I’ll always remember this journey as a student here,” says Lepinski, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education wearing giant yellow slippers revealing his secret identity as Rocky the Red Hawk, Montclair’s beloved mascot. He was a member of Team Rocky for two years.

“The best part of being Rocky for years was making people smile and interacting with people to make their day a little brighter,” says Lepinski, who was careful not to be too Jersey Joe in his dance moves. “I loved dancing in the suit and leaving people guessing who it was.”

Lepinski’s social media career has soared since he started dancing in front of his phone camera just three years ago. He’s built a following of 3.6 million on TikTok and is closing in on 400,000 followers on Instagram. Jersey Joe hypes up and dances for New York professional sports teams, appearing regularly on the New York Rangers’ official TikTok account and this month on the official TikTok account of the New York Knicks. Like the two teams, his account has a verified blue check mark but Lepinski has more followers than the two teams combined.

A collage of videos from Jersey Joe on TikTok.
Above and below: Some of Lepinski’s popular social media posts, including his Rocky reveal. Montclair’s video reveals Lepinsk as Rocky.

Not bad for someone who’s online success sprung from a night of boredom. Lepinski, who grew up dancing to Michael Jackson videos, was in his Machuga Heights dorm room one night when he decided to record himself dancing to Jersey Club music. [Formerly known as Brick City club because it originated in Newark in the early aughts, Jersey club is a version of electronic house music pioneered by Newark DJs.]

When he asked for help coming up with an online moniker and someone suggested Jersey Joe, Lepinski liked that it was a nod to the music he loves to dance to combined with his name. Jersey Joe was born and soon off to social media stardom. Lepinski’s TikTok video of him trying to dance with a goose has racked up almost 32 million views. Even Emmy Award-winning actress Sydney Sweeney of The White Lotus and Euphoria fame has done a TikTok duet video alongside one of Lepinski’s many dance videos, which are nearing 205 million likes.

Often dancing in his pajama pants and slippers in his apartment or parents’ kitchen, Lepinski is the creator of the “slipper slap,” where he kicks off his slipper, snatches it with one hand and slaps it through the air. Occasionally, a slipper gets slapped across a room or to the floor or one of his dance buddies tosses him a slipper to slap.

Lepinski has danced his way to opportunity, everything from club appearances to concerts. He no longer gets compensated with just free food and tickets to sporting events, recently getting paid to create dance videos for the Rangers and Knicks.

His advice to others wanting to turn their social media presence into a career: “Have fun and be yourself but the most important is staying consistent. The more you post the more people will see you and you will get your name out there and more recognition. Make sure you have somewhere you could write down what you have to get done each day and then at the end of the day check mark it off as complete. This will help keep your days organized and get things done on time.”

After graduation, Lepinski says he anticipates doing “social media full time but I have my degree as a backup plan. I’m getting my degree in Physical Education teaching, since I’ve always loved sports and working with kids.”

Scrabis-Fletcher would like to see that happen. “Although he is graduating without a teaching certificate, I hope he pursues an avenue of working with children,” she says.

Jersey Joe
Joseph “Jersey Joe” Lepinski at the Student Center Quad. (Photo by University Photographer Mike Peters.)

Story by Staff Writer Sylvia A. Martinez. Photos by University Photographer Mike Peters.

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