Turns out a meme can change a life.
When diner Cullen was just 9 years old, he was holding a cup of lemonade at a Popeye’s in Irvington, New Jersey, waiting in line for his family pack of chicken, biscuits and fries.
A stranger pulls out his phone to record and compare Colin. Lil TerioA guy who was famous on the internet at the time for his dance moves.
Colin gave the man filming a side glare and, in that moment, he became a meme.
The man posted the clip on Vine, the now-defunct video-sharing app, where it went viral and eventually became a widely used GIF.
Colin, 18, is now a freshman in college and plays for the football team at Lake Erie College in Pennsville, Ohio, and a decade after the meme stream — he’s embracing his former glory.
He’s making the most of his viral moment, signing a sponsorship with Popeyes that will use his name, image and likeness on billboards and other ads.
Colin’s family weren’t too happy about his social media fame at first, but now that it’s turned into an opportunity – and they’re not so mad about it.
“When it happened, we didn’t want to be in the spotlight. And right out there, people were coming up to my dad and saying, “Hey, we’ve seen your kid on this,” his trying to make fun of me. My dad didn’t like his kids being made fun of,” Colin said. told CNN. “But now, the fact that I’ve turned it into a blessing, he loves it.”
The partnership is thanks to a social media campaign fueled by Colin and his fans – with other fast food chains pitching in to help.
“The @Popeyes meme kid @CollinDieunerst is now a freshman offensive lineman at Division II Lake Erie College and if this guy doesn’t have a NIL deal by tomorrow, Louisiana’s kitchen needs to clean house from upper management. ,” A person Tweeted.
Colin referred to the initial tweet and added: â€œSaid it best @Popeyes.â€
“Let’s chat over lunch @ColinDinnerist,” KFC Answered.
“@Popeyes do it for bull,” Buffalo Wild Wings Chime in.
“Hey @Poppies do the right thing!!! This kid has given you plenty of free marketing over the years!!!” someone else Tweeted.
Popeyes sent Colin a private message within hours and a representative called him with an offer.
The fast food chain announced the partnership a few days later in a post on social media. Title given: Proud to welcome Davenerst Cullen to the fam.
“There’s a lot you can do with the power of the Internet behind you,” Cullen said. “I can’t believe I can say I’m officially sponsored by Poppies. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the good word!
The papayas Posted a video To launch the partnership, Colin took to Instagram to describe his journey “from memes to dreams.”
The video begins with a viral meme over the backdrop of a Popeyes location.
“That’s where our story started,” explains Colin. “The moment that made us a monument. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t understand it. But don’t worry little man, we didn’t stop it. Because the bigger we got, the harder it got. “We learned to lean in. We turned focus into motivation and motivation into championships. This is where our story began and now a new beginning begins.”
gave The first Popeyes billboard went with Cullen in his hometown of East Orange, New Jersey last weekend, which featured the college player mimicking his 9-year-old’s expressions with the meme.
But Colin never thought the meme would go as viral as it has.
“I never thought it would get this big,” he admitted to CNN. I thought people would move on and forget about the meme. When I talk to my father, he gets really emotional because he never expected this (success) from me.
Colin hopes to one day get his own meal at Popeyes, like other celebrities at various fast food chains.
In addition to turning his meme into a dream, the communications student hopes to play professional football and eventually become a sports analyst.
As for whether or not Colin himself uses the meme, he said he wouldn’t.
“I’ve used it less than 10 times,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of using it, because that’s me” but sometimes I send it just to be funny.”
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