Pete Weber: The Once and Future Bad Boy of Bowling

It's been 12 years since his "Who do you think you are? I am!" celebration went viral, but he's going strong: "I still am the man of bowling"

March 14, 2024 6:42 am
Bowler Pete Weber competes at a PBA tournament. We caught up with the pro bowler 12 years after his viral "Who do you think you are? I am!" celebration.
Is Weber sick of his viral catchphrase? Hardly. "It means more to me than anything else that people actually remember that."
Getty Images for PBA

Pete Weber bowls, therefore he is. The son of a Hall-of-Fame bowler, 61-year-old Weber grew up in a bowling alley and went pro on the Professional Bowlers Association tour in 1979 at the age of 17. The winner of Rookie of the Year honors, Weber already had 10 PBA titles by the age of 24 (the youngest player to reach that threshold). He now owns 37 PBA Tour titles (fourth all-time) and 10 major championships (tied for second all-time), but is perhaps best known for eight words he spoke after winning the U.S. Open for the fifth time more than a decade ago: “Who do you think you are? I am.” 

Those eight words transformed Weber — who recently took part in the inaugural PBA All-Star Weekend at Phoenix Raceway and will take center stage in the Legacy Cup on March 16 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1 — from a man into a meme after the clip of him exploding at the crowd when a strike put him ahead 215-214 to take the Open by a pin went viral.

According to Weber, who’s become a fixture on the PBA50 Tour and competes in about 15 tournaments per year but no longer rolls on the PBA’s main tour, he actually misspoke while bellowing the proclamation that made him a hit with an internet audience that might not even know the difference between a strike and a spare.

“It just happened to come out that way. I wanted to say, ‘Who do you think you are [clears throat] with me in my house? This is my tournament,’” Weber tells InsideHook. “It just happened to come out that way. Even 12 years later now, I still get recognition for it. I’ve probably recorded 10,000 Cameos. Every one of them ends with ‘Who do you think you are? I am!’ It means more to me than anything else that people actually remember that. It makes me really proud of a stupid saying that became a famous saying. It makes me feel good.”

So what else is Weber feeling these days now that he’s competing against “old guys” instead of “the kids”? We caught up with him before All-Star Weekend to discuss rolling on the senior tour, misconceptions people might have about him and, of course, the most famous eight words in the history of bowling.

InsideHook: How does competing on the PBA50 Tour compare to rolling on the PBA’s regular tour?

Pete Weber: The kids are more powerful. They throw the ball so strong. My bowling ball just doesn’t hit like theirs. That’s why I retired off the tour. I cannot compete with the kids anymore. I’m too old. It’s very humbling for somebody who has been as good as I’ve been throughout my career to not have a chance. On the senior tour, it’s a little different. I get to bowl against 50-year-old guys. I can still beat them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still competitive, but I’m not bowling against the stars of today. I’m bowling against guys I’ve bowled against for 40 years, 50 years. My mindset is a little bit different because I know I can beat those guys. I bowl every stop on the tour because I feel if I don’t bowl, then I’m giving away free money.

Jason Belmonte, the World’s Best Bowler, Understands That You’ve Probably Never Heard of Him
Belmonte is the Professional Bowlers Association’s winningest with 15 majors

Do you think you could ever win a major event like the Masters or the U.S. Open ever again?

Dude, there’s no way I could ever beat the kids. It would have to be the luckiest week of my life. The kids today are so good. They’re powerful and they’re young. They throw it 20 miles an hour. If I throw it 15 miles an hour, I think I’ve thrown it pretty hard. You have to know when it’s time to quit. I finally figured out it was time to quit. Physically, I’m still in good shape, so I’m not going to quit bowling. It’s something I love. As long as I’m alive, I’m going to bowl.

The PBA just named the Pete Weber Missouri Classic after you. How big of an honor was that?

I guarantee that there aren’t 10 people who’ve had tournaments named after them. What an elite group to be logged into. Having a tournament named after you is the highest honor you could ever have in professional bowling. I don’t care about my 37 titles, but the tournament being named after me is the highest honor I could ever have. I’m not going to bowl in it anymore, but I’ll be there to congratulate the guys, wish them luck and make sure they feel comfortable doing what they’re doing.

I saw your name on a fan’s sign along with names like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Tom Brady that named you as the greatest of all time. What’s it like to be mentioned with those legends?

I saw that poster. What an honor to even be mentioned with the guys you just named. I couldn’t be more pleased and happy with that, but you know what? I am Pete Weber, and who do you think you are? I’ve always been Pete Weber. I will always be Pete Weber. I’ve never been shy about what I say on TV or anything like that. I still am the man of bowling.

Pete Weber at the PBA Chris Paul Celebrity Invitational Bowling Tournament.
Pete Weber is still bowling for cash because he can’t say no to free money.
Jesse Grant/Getty For PBA

With your career winding down, what do you want people’s lasting memory of you to be? 

I would love to be known as Pete Weber, the bad boy of bowling. Love me or hate me, you’re still going to watch. I am the man that rescued bowling and put PBA back on the map. That’s how I want to be remembered. I don’t want to be remembered as Dick Weber’s son. I want to be remembered as Pete Weber, the new founder of the new PBA.

Is “Love me or hate me, you’re still going to watch” another catchphrase you use?

There are a lot of Pete Weber haters out there who say, “I hate him. I’m never going to watch him bowl again.” But they watch me bowl to see what I’m going to do. It’s flattering to me and probably not flattering to them. That makes me feel really good. I feed off the negative energy a lot better than I do the positive. Everybody knows not to piss me off. If you piss me off, I’m going to bowl better. They don’t call me the bad boy for nothing.

Do you keep that bad boy persona when you’re not competing?

People see me on TV and think I’m an ass, but the people who think that really don’t know me as a person. Off the lanes, there’s no reason to be that way. I am the most cordial guy you could ever meet. Just give me five minutes to go smoke a cigarette and get my thoughts together and I will sign your photos and take pictures. Off the lanes, people will see a totally different side of me. I’m not really an asshole, but I do what it takes to win. That’s what people don’t get.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!