NEW RINGGOLD, Pa. — Hey, didja hear the news? Beyonce and Jay-Z are moving to Schuylkill County, Pa.!
That's the rumor swirling around these parts: That the singer and her rap mogul husband, Grammy Award winners both, are planning to buy a multimillion-dollar spread on 210 secluded acres in eastern Pennsylvania.
What began as idle gossip has turned into an article of faith among many here.
People are talking about it in grocery stores and pharmacies, at the fitness center and kids' T-ball games, online and over the phone. One fan even posted a welcome message on Beyonce's official website.
No one seems to know how the rumor got started. No deed has been recorded in the courthouse, no real estate transfer tax has been paid, and the celebs have yet to request a showing, according to the real estate agent listing the house.
But the gossip persists, supercharged by unconfirmed sightings of Beyonce at several businesses, from Boyer's supermarket to Heisler's dairy bar. And who was riding in that black Lamborghini seen tooling around town?
Beyonce fans Brooke Shilling and Anne Tomtishen, college students from nearby Pottsville and Ringtown, drove up to the front gate after class one day this week, excited by the prospect of one of the planet's best-known celebrity couples making a home in Schuylkill County (pronounced SKOO'-kuhl).
"I'm gonna tell everyone I'm their neighbors. It's insane!" gushed Shilling, 20.
Added Tomtishen, 23: "Maybe she'll have babies. That would be awesome!"
At first, the notion they would buy a house here seems farfetched, even ludicrous. Schuylkill County is an economically struggling region best known for the Yuengling brewery, Mrs. T's Pierogies, the Molly Maguires and a coal mining industry that is a shadow of its former self. In other words, it's a celebrity-free zone.
"I don't believe they'll be here, unless they get a taste for Yuengling," scoffed Jonathan Moss, 54, of nearby Orwigsburg.
Upon further inspection, though, the idea has a certain logic.
Beyonce and Jay-Z could do a lot worse than the unique wood-and-stone hillside contemporary at the heart of the matter. Listed at $11.9 million, it's got 16,000 square feet of living space and stunning views of Hawk Mountain, a popular birdwatching spot. The property comes with a vintage eight-bedroom Sears house, a one-bedroom guest house, a restored bank barn and frontage on the trout-stocked Little Schuylkill River. (Does Beyonce fish?)
It's also convenient – just over two hours west of Manhattan by stretch limo, even closer by helicopter or private plane.
And the region does have a few celebrity claims to fame, including 1930s bandleaders Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and Muhammad Ali, who had a training camp a few miles away in Deer Lake.
The rumor has brought plenty of attention to the ultra-luxe property, but Beyonce and Jay-Z haven't expressed an interest in it, said Ericka Kirkpatrick, the agent who is listing the house.
"I am just humored," she said. "We have no idea what the deal is or where it got started. ... We are just being bombarded with craziness. This is so absurd!"
Jeff Faust, chairman of the local board of supervisors, said no one has approached the township about putting in a helipad – another rumor making the rounds.
"It's amazing what people will come up with," he said. "Believe me, I'd love for that property to sell. The township gets a nice chunk of change from the realty transfer tax."
The stars' reps aren't commenting, which means this rumor will likely persist at least until the house is sold. So who knows? There may be a Yuengling or two in their future after all.
Associated Press Writer Michael Rubinkam, who lives down the street, says Jay-Z and Beyonce are welcome to borrow a cup of sugar, a ladder or some power tools.