Pokemon Go players have theorized that the Chinese Spy Balloon spotted flying over Montana is actually a part of the game’s Team Rocket Takeover event.
On February 3, 2023, an unidentified balloon was seen flying high over the state of Montana. A video captured and shared by a civilian has since gone viral, as the balloon seemingly carried high-tech surveillance gear.
The U.S. military has issued a statement, claiming the device to be a “high-altitude surveillance balloon” launched by China. However, China’s foreign ministry claims the balloon is a civilian research airship used mainly for meteorological purposes that had simply deviated far from its planned course.
But Pokemon Go players share a different theory. Trainers are finding it a bit too coincidental that a “Spy Balloon” appeared in the U.S. just days after the Team GO Rocket Takeover event began.
Chinese Spy Balloon or Team Go Rocket?
The Team Go Rocket Takeover event started on February 1 and promised the frequent appearance of Team GO Rocket balloons in the game. But two days after its start, a “surveillance balloon” was spotted soaring through the skies of IRL Montana.
Pokemon Go players didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity to draw a comparison. “Team Rocket really think they slick,” Reddit user suttleb captioned a photoshopped version of a Team Go Rocket balloon, replacing the aircraft with the one spotted in Montana.
Another user posted an unedited version of a Team Go Rocket balloon and stated, “When you’re in Montana.” To which several comments claimed they “got the reference.”
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Lastly, user SlappyNinja posted the actual photo of the Chinese Balloon with the caption, “Is this just a coincidence? or is Team Rocket Invading IRL???” A user in the comments posted a link leading to the LeekDuck page detailing the Team GO Rocket Takeover event.
But it didn’t include any info about IRL balloons.
This speculation is all fun and games, especially since the Chinese government has claimed the device originated from their country.
While the aircraft is just a coincidence this time, maybe Niantic will be inspired to send up an actual Team Rocket balloon for future Pokemon Go events.