When social stardom
is used for good

A YouTube star at the Invictus Games.

As Otto Bulletproof, he is renowned in social media. But that is not important for Ottogerd Karl Elmar Karasch during the days of the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing.

More than 530,000 people have subscribed to his YouTube channel, and he’s been streaming on Twitch for a good year now, but for the fantastic days in Düsseldorf, Otto is leaving his alias “Bulletproof” behind. Ottogerd Karl Elmar Karasch just wants to help where he can at the Invictus Games.

It’s a matter of the heart,” says the 40-year-old, “I wanna help to ensure that the soldiers, as part of our society, are being perceived more again.” The former soldier will be roaming around the area the whole week in order to create content. But, above all, Otto wants to try to “convey the soul and spirit of the Invictus Games to a broader public.”

He doesn’t have far to come. He lives across the Rhine in the nearby city of Neuss – a stone’s throw away. Apart from that, his topics are “survival” and “bushcraft”, but always also the Bundeswehr. After Otto’s victory in the second “7 vs. Wild” series of Germany’s number one bushcrafter Fritz Meinecke, the interest in his channels rose exponentially, too. Otto doesn’t take himself too seriously, plays his trump card with self-irony and wit when something goes badly wrong again during a live transmission. This is exactly what appeals to his subscribers. Otto is one of us, is real and authentic.

His eyes beam with joy when he talks about how he can now “simply just absorb the atmosphere” at his old place of activity among schoolchildren, comrades, family members and lots of sport. From 2015 to 2020, he competed with the “leather egg” in American football for the Düsseldorf Panthers. “This is how I imagine the Olympic Games in the proper sense,” says Karasch. He is right.

Yet he is fully aware that with all the cheerful and colourful goings-on around the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA, there is always a serious back story. “To draw attention to the fact that we, as soldiers, also exist, and that we might need some help – that’s my concern.” And that’s exactly what he is now using his remarkable influence in social media for.

The reserve senior officer cadet knows what he is talking about. He served for twelve years from 2002-2014. Staff sergeant Karasch was there when a very good friend was killed in an attack during a common mission abroad in Afghanistan. He provided first aid for him and others and then led the operating team back to the secure base. Everyone survived the attack – except his friend from Cologne.

For this outstanding leadership performance, Karasch received the Gold Cross of Honour of the Bundeswehr – one of the Bundeswehr’s highest awards. He doesn’t like to talk about it. That’s why he prefers to read out the reasons for the award in the video on his channel. What a dichotomy: your friend is killed in action and you are being recognised because you managed to keep your nerve and do your job.

“The greatest lesson for me is to feel a deep gratitude, to just be alive,” says Karasch, “and to enjoy the little things too.” This is also what he wants people to feel during the days in Düsseldorf, and certainly what he wants to convey to part of his community that he encounters on the ground.

His buddy Sebo, who became a weekend social media performer through “Arctic Warrior”, Otto’s biggest project to date, also stopped by for a flying visit on Sunday. “The Invictus Games are a matter of the heart, it’s an honour for me to be here,” says the professional soldier, who himself has been wounded several times on a mission: “The athletes at the Games are role models for everyone!”

Author: Mark Mittasch

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