Technology

Six viral memes and how their owners cashed in

The people (and pets) behind these viral memes are funding their futures by selling pieces of internet history

Kids and cats are cashing in on the latest digital craze: non-fungible tokens (NFTs). And they have plans.

Disaster Girl

Zöe Roth made more than $400,000, 16 years after her four-year-old face became the widely used meme “Disaster Girl,” when she sold the photo as an NFT to 3F Music. She plans to use the money to pay off student loans and donate to charity.

Charlie bit my finger (YouTube)

(YouTube)

Charlie bit my finger

Harry and Charlie captured our hearts with a chomp in their viral video, viewed more than 800 million times. The video was sold as an NFT for £538,000—more than $900,000. The money will pay for Harry’s college tuition (he wants to study engineering) and those of his three younger siblings—including Charlie—too.

(Grumpy Cat/Foundation)

(@GrumpyCat/Foundation)

Grumpy cat

An image of now-deceased Tardar Sauce was sold for $106,000, adding to the fortune the feline yielded her owner, Tabatha Bundesen.

(@NyanCat/Foundation)

(@NyanCat/Foundation)

Nyan Cat

Chris Torres’s rainbow Nyan Cat was one of the first memes to be sold as an NFT, for around $719,000. He says the money is his retirement fund and a ticket to making art for a living.

[@BadLuckBrian/Foundation]

Bad Luck Brian

Brace-faced Bad Luck Brian—also known as Kyle Craven, of Ohio—sold his meme for $47,000, which Wired reports he will keep in cryptocurrency and use to make NFT investments of his own.


This interview appears in print in the September 2021 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Living the meme.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.