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Eagle lands on Notre Dame fans before start of Cotton Bowl

This bird may have taken the phrase “land of the free” literally.

A bald eagle’s planned flyover as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played before the start of the Cotton Bowl on Saturday ended up going off-track when the majestic bird landed on some fans instead.

The eagle, named Clark, was supposed to fly in circles around AT&T Stadium ahead of the semi-final playoff football game between Clemson and Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas.

Fans cheer as "Clark," an American bald eagle, lands on the arm of a fan in the upper deck after the playing of the national anthem before the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game between Clemson and Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas.

Fans cheer as “Clark,” an American bald eagle, lands on the arm of a fan in the upper deck after the playing of the national anthem before the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game between Clemson and Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas.
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

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Instead of flying directly to his handler, Clark instead took his own route through the stadium and perched himself on some Fighting Irish fans.

“I was scared crapless,” Albert Armas told Sports Illustrated. “My family members have already been texting me, ‘You’re famous!'”

CLEMSON DEFEATS NOTRE DAME, 30-3, IN NCAA COTTON BOWL

After landing on Armas, the bird then had another landing two sections over on the arm of Tuyen Nguyen.

“I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan,” Nguyen told Sports Illustrated. “When I saw the bird land [on Armas], I thought the bird had to be very tired. So I put my hand out to see what happens. And it landed on me. It was very interesting. I was very excited. It was amazing. I couldn’t even believe it.”

Clark, an American bald eagle, lands on the back of a fan on the upper deck during the playing of the national anthem before the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game between Clemson and Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas.

Clark, an American bald eagle, lands on the back of a fan on the upper deck during the playing of the national anthem before the NCAA Cotton Bowl semi-final playoff football game between Clemson and Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Arlington, Texas.
(AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Neither of the fans were injured by the bird’s talons, and it eventually returned to his handler on the field. The Clemson Tigers won the game 30-3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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