Yes, Katie Aiani is the Greatest Harry Potter Fan in the World, and there are 101 reasons why

Ear wax almost prevented Katie Aiani from becoming the Greatest Harry Potter Fan in the World. When the Simi Valley Web designer, now 25, was 11, she wandered into the living room as her dad read a book to her younger sister, Kristy, 7. "All I heard as I walked past the couch was, 'Alas, ear wax,' and something about beans. I was disgusted," Aiani said. "EEEEWWWW, what are you reading?" she asked. It was the final chapter of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," J.K. Rowling's first book about a boy wizard, in which Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, responds after tasting an ear wax-flavored piece of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, a jelly bean-like candy. Kristy Aiani, offended by words of disdain toward "the best book I've ever read," pushed her older sister into her room with the book and said, "You're not coming out until you read this." Katie Aiani, who hated reading, opened the book to the first page ? and never stopped. The next day, she rushed out to buy the second book, which she read aloud to Kristy. And so began 14 years of Potter passion: midnight book releases, camp-outs at movie premieres, treks to Harry Potter conventions, "fan trips" to England and Scotland, Quidditch matches (she played on Moorpark College's team, the Moorpark Marauders), interviews for documentaries about Potter fans (including an extra feature on the Blu-ray for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"), adventures at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Florida, and numerous shopping excursions to Whimsic Alley, the Harry Potter store in Los Angeles. If that level of fandom doesn't impress you, consider this: She's visited a zoo to try to talk with snakes, wants to get married at a Harry Potter film location, has tried every flavor of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and studied Latin to better understand Rowling's spells, which have names like "Accio." Her website is Today, Aiani's license plate frame (next to bumper stickers that say "I'd Rather Be Playing Quidditch" and "I Harry Potter"), reads "#1 Harry Potter Fan in the Whole World!" She's definitely earned the title ? officially. In 2010 Aiani won a contest, "101 Reasons I Am the Greatest Harry Potter Fan in the World," and got her list published in Box Office Magazine. Potter paraphernalia No. 2 on the winning list was "My room is 100 percent covered in Harry Potter." She's not exaggerating. Every spare inch houses a piece of Potter book or movie memorabilia. The Harry hodgepodge includes movie posters, magazine and newspaper articles, pillows, blankets, a stuffed owl, a Voldemort doll, Hogwarts banners, Extendable Ears, a sorting hat, signed pictures (she has autographs from all the actors in the films), 100 T-shirts, 25 wands, Quidditch goggles, a Marauder's Map, a caldron, a Gryffindor sword, stickers, scarves, figurines, buttons, the Horcruxes (diary, cup, locket, ring, diadem, snake), hand-painted tennis shoes, and even a Potter-print sundress with a pocket for a wand. And of course, she has the books ? all seven extremely well-worn and well-loved. She's read the stories (and listened to the audiobooks) countless times. Aiani also collects the first book in the series from different countries; her 14-item worldly stash includes books from the Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Korea, Japan and the U.K. "Some girls buy makeup and clothes; I buy Harry Potter stuff," said Aiani, dressed for an interview with The Star in Gryffindor robes and red-and-yellow striped tie and socks, with a replica of Hermione's Time Turner necklace around her neck. She always wears something Potter-related ? jewelry, socks, a pin ? and has a tattoo of a golden snitch (used in the wizard game of Quidditch) on her wrist. Next year, Aiani said, she wants to try to earn a Guinness World Record as the person with the biggest Potter collection. But Aiani's Pottermania runs deeper than collectibles. Fellow Potter fan Jackie Garrecht, Aiani's best friend from New York (they met on a Harry Potter fan trip in the U.K. in 2007 that included a ride on the train used as the Hogwarts Express in the films), said Aiani is "definitely the most fanatic I've ever met. But that's aside from the merchandise. It really has impacted her life. It IS her life. It means the most to her." Younger sister Kristy said she and Katie, who used to fight, have become close because of their shared passion for the books. "I don't think I could ever put into words what J.K. Rowling did for us," Kristy said. "She gave us purpose, power, strength, friendship, magic and love." Aiani has a simple answer to why Harry Potter has kept her spellbound all these years: "It makes me happy." Plus, she said, "It got me to read. It's given me friends around the world. And Harry Potter has great morals and values for kids and adults. There's just a way for everyone to connect to it." 'Thank you Jo' Recently, Aiani hit a delirious peak of happiness by accomplishing what she calls her "life goal": She met Rowling. No. 53 on Aiani's list of reasons she's the greatest Harry Potter fan was "I would turn down $100,000 just to meet J.K. Rowling." "I wanted to meet and thank her in person," Aiani said. "That was so important to me. I think it's different when you say thank you in an email or letter." The goal had eluded her. Rowling doesn't make a lot of public appearances, especially in the United States. So Aiani figured her best chance to meet her idol was to attend the 2011 premiere of the final movie in the blockbuster series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," in London. She spent a week in pouring cold rain, without a tent or chair, waiting to be one of the first fans on the red carpet. She was No. 30 in a line of what turned into a crowd of about 10,000. Aiani's devotion ? and a sign that said "We are from California" ? led to interviews for British TV shows and newspapers. After Rowling arrived at the premiere, however, the author was whisked away quickly and bypassed most of the fans. "But I never gave up," Aiani said. "I think that's the best thing I've learned for my entire life: to not give up on your dreams. Because my dream has always been to meet J.K. Rowling. She finally got her chance in October, when she learned Rowling would be in New York City to discuss and sign her first novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy," at Lincoln Center. Tickets were available for 1,000 fans, but the theater's website was hacked, and 2,000 were sold. Aiani, after calling the box office on three different phones, had nabbed two. "It was chaos; I was so stressed out," she said. "Nobody knew which tickets were real, which ones they would honor." Organizers eventually moved the event to a bigger venue after talking to Rowling, who said, "I'm going to sign for every fan." Aiani, as she wended her way through the book signing line, filmed the whole thing using a GoPro sport camera on her shoulder. With her fingernails painted in the Hogwarts house colors (and "Thank you Jo" printed on them), Aiani approached Rowling. Hyperventilating and sobbing, she handed Rowling a letter and said, in one mashed-together string of breathless words, "I'm your biggest fan. Thank you for giving me a purpose in life." Rowling replied, "That means so much to me," signed Aiani's book and took the letter. "I promise you, I will read this," she said. "I couldn't believe I accomplished my life goal at 25," Aiani said. "Now what do I do?" she said, laughing. But the Pottermania hasn't subsided. Aiani was recently filmed for a college student's documentary about Potter fans, and for a TV show about devotees of the series, although she doesn't know the name of the program "because they were very secretive." Perhaps she can work a little magic on her boyfriend of five years. "He hates Harry Potter," she said, laughing. "But he loves Star Wars. And he loves me, and I love him. And I'll always love Harry Potter."