Guys, you’ve been put to shame.
One Phoenix lovebird successfully pulled off an epically elaborate marriage proposal during Day 3 of Country Thunder Arizona on Saturday night, with a little help from ACM Male Vocalist of the year Thomas Rhett and a local radio station.
Jesse Stradling, 29, of Gilbert, dropped to one knee in the backstage meet and greet area in front of Rhett. Girlfriend Michelle McCunn, 32, of Twinsburg, Ohio, who had no idea she was even going to meet the Country Thunder headliner — who is also her favorite artist — gleefully accepted.
“It’s exactly what I wanted!” said McCunn, of her sparkly new ring. Then laughing, “He (had) told me no.”
The proposal took about a month to plan, and started when Stradling, who is in law enforcement, showed up in his work uniform at the KMLE Country 107.9 FM offices. He told the station he wanted to propose to his girlfriend of four years on their anniversary. He said they started dating at Country Thunder. And, he wanted to make it special.
The radio station then contacted Rhett’s people and worked out a fitting cover story.
The plan was put in motion at about noon Saturday.
Jared Marshall, KMLE’s midday host and assistant program director, drove out to Stradling’s campsite with morning personality Chris Matthews. The two told Stradling, and a surprised McCunn, that their electronic wristbands had been randomly selected by the station to receive a personal tour later that evening of Country Thunder’s VIP and backstage area.
Plus, they said, the couple had won reserved seats in the VIP section in front of the stage.
View from the stage
The “tour” was timed so that the couple arrived at the meet and greet tent just as Rhett was done signing autographs.
Stradling said he was so nervous that he hadn’t been able to eat all day.
“Do you know how hard this was to keep a secret?” he asked McCunn as they kissed.
When asked which was better – getting to meet her favorite artist or getting engaged, McCunn paused for a moment, and then started laughing.
“I’d say getting engaged,” she said. “Because that is a moment (meeting Rhett.) This is the rest of my life with him.”
After the proposal, there was yet another surprise waiting for both Stradling and McCunn: They didn’t have seats in the VIP area after all. Instead, they were escorted to seats on the stage to watch the show, where Rhett was due to perform the ACM’s Song of the Year “Die a Happy Man.”
azcentral.com and KMLE Country 107.9 find out: How well do fans at Country Thunder Arizona know the festival’s lineup? Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
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Randy Helm leads the morning Cowboy Church at Country Thunder Arizona on Sunday, April 9, 2017. Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
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Tyler Farr spoke to KMLE Country 107.9 about traveling to Guam to play for the troops and more before playing at Country Thunder Arizona 2017. Credit: KMLE
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Randy Rogers of the Randy Rogers Band talks about how where he’s playing inspires him and more with KMLE Country 107.9 at Country Thunder Arizona 2017. Credit: KMLE
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Arizona native Dierks Bentley talks about what he misses most about his home state with KMLE Country 10.79 at Country Thunder on Friday, April 7, 2017. Credit: KMLE
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Arizona native and Country Thunder Arizona ambassador Harry Luge played a few songs from KMLE Country 107.9 in Florence on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Credit: KMLE
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azcentral.com music critic Ed Masley interviews country artist Joe Nichols at Country Thunder Arizona on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Thomas Hawnthorne/azcentral.com
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Though it’s more than a 25-minute walk from the main stage, the Ponderosa campground still parties hard at Country Thunder Arizona. We catch up with Jacob Halaby on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
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Country Thunder Arizona 2017 artist Aaron Watson played some hits in the KMLE Country 107.9 Casino in Florence on Friday, April 7, 2017. Credit: KMLE
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Jon Pardi talks Country Thunder Arizona show, ACMs and how he takes care of his voice with KMLE Country 107.9 on Friday, April 7, 2017.
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16 teams compete for the golden Solo cup trophy in the Beer Olympics at Country Thunder Arizona each year in Florence, Arizona.
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Chris Young talks Country Thunder Arizona and more with KMLE Country 107.9 DJs on Thursday, April 6, 2017. Credit: KMLE
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Country-music duo LOCASH played a campsite concert for the winners of a KMLE Country 107.9 radio station contest at Country Thunder Arizona on Thursday, April 6, 2017.
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Singer Terri Clark talks country music and her radio station before she plays Country Thunder Arizona in Florence on Thursday, April 6, 2017. Patrick Breen/azcentral.com.
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Kaila White, a reporter with azcentral.com, explains the essentials one should take if going to an outdoor music festival in the desert such as Country Thunder or Coachella. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
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Country Thunder Arizona trivia: How well do you know the lineup?
See inside Cowboy Church at Country Thunder Arizona
Tyler Farr talks playing for the troops, more with KMLE at Country Thunder Arizona
Randy Rogers talk country you can dance to with KMLE at Country Thunder Arizona
Dierks Bentley on what he misses most about Arizona with KMLE
Watch Country Thunder Arizona ambassador Harry Luge in concert from KMLE
Joe Nichols talks Country Thunder Arizona
Ponderosa campground parties from afar at Country Thunder Arizona
Aaron Watson plays KMLE Casino concert at Country Thunder Arizona
Jon Pardi talks Country Thunder Arizona with KMLE
Beer Olympics at Country Thunder Arizona
Chris Young talks Country Thunder Arizona
LOCASH surprises Country Thunder Arizona campers with concert
Catching up with singer Terri Clark at Country Thunder Arizona
What you HAVE to bring to a desert music festival
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