By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Cokato resident Lee Dahlquist recently had the opportunity to meet Jay Leno backstage during a comedy tour stop at Grand Casino-Mille Lacs April 20. Dahlquist was quick to point out he was from the same town as the “Fighting Ahos.”
Dahlquist wanted to talk about Leno’s remarks made during his late-night show, in which he read a newspaper headline referencing the Aho family, whose sons played in 24 consecutive football seasons.
The story made national headlines this fall after the initial story ran in the Enterprise Dispatch.
During the headlines segment of Leno’s late night talk show, an article written by Star Tribune writer Patrick Reusse was referenced.
The headline read: “Cokato is home of the Fighting Ahos.”
Leno mispronounced both “Cokato” (Cock-a-too) and “Aho” (A-ho) and suggested the team get a new name.
Also part of the segment, Leno commented, “I’m proud to say our team is made up of a bunch of A-hos.”
The mother of the 12 sons referenced in Leno’s commentary, Karen Aho, didn’t find Leno’s remarks all that funny, though she said her sons did.
Before the backstage greetings, Dahlquist informed Karen of the potential meeting with Leno and she had him deliver a personal letter to Leno, which happened to be a Christmas card complete with a family photo.
In it, she thanked him for mentioning her family on his show. Since she works at the Dairy Queen, Karen also gave him complimentary meal tickets to redeem if he is ever in town.
Dahlquist delivered the letter as asked and also showed him copies of the Enterprise Dispatch and the Star Tribune with the Aho stories.
He also had along a photo of the Aho family, which Leno signed.
What was completely unexpected was when Karen received a phone call from an unknown number. The person on the other end Jay Leno himself.
“I didn’t believe him. He had to convince,” Karen said, adding that he even described Dahlquist, who he met the night before, “to a T.”
In their five-minute conversation, Karen informed him how he had “butchered” Cokato and didn’t think his mispronunciation of their family name was all that funny either.
In turn, Leno apologized and told her he wasn’t sure how the names were meant to be pronounced. He also thanked her for the card.
“He seemed nice,” Karen commented.
To see the full segment from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, click here.