The Chile mine rescue effort looks set to wrap sometime near daylight on Thursday, with all 33 miners expected to be successfully retrieved. As the ordeal continues through the night, perhaps none of the miners is making as big of an international splash as Mario Sepulveda, who's being hailed as the San Jose mine's "breakout star."
The second of the miners to emerge, Sepulveda came bearing souvenirs which he enthusiastically delivered to onlookers after his ascent. And the 40-year-old electrician delivered what has already become the rescue effort's signature quote, albeit one which has been translated differently depending on the source, at a news conference. "I was with God and with the devil, and God took me," Sepulveda is quoted as saying in The Telegraph. Or, according to USA Today, "I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought me, and God won."
Translations notwithstanding, Sepulveda's reputation as a bit of a camera-saavy figure precedes him. Alternately nicknamed "Super Mario" and "the presenter" by the press, Sepulveda might also seem familiar to global audiences from his narrations of the grainy mine videos which appeared on various news organizations as well as on YouTube, one of which he reportedly concluded with, "Over to you in the studio."
Just hours after his ascent, Sepulveda insists he isn't allowing his presumed role as the Chile mine's leading man go to his head. "I make a plea to the media to not treat us as like an artist or a showbusiness figure," Sepulveda is quoted by The Telegraph as saying. "I would like you to show me how I am: a miner. I will continue to work as a miner."