As time passes, the internet jumps from new meme to meme. Baby Yoda, for example, took the world by storm after the premiere of The Mandalorian. Next, the internet was all about Netflix series Tiger King. However, there are memes that stand the test of time — like the Success Kid meme — but that boy is now a teenager who’s taking the internet back and speaking on his early internet fame.
“It’s weird to be famous as a baby,” Sam Griner said to Buzzfeed Video.
The Story Behind the Success Kid
Sam’s mom, Laney, and dad, Justin, joined him on the video (posted below) as they explained the meme’s origins, which date back to 2007.
The family went to the beach, where Sam’s mother was testing out their new camera. She took a photo of 11-month-old Sam getting ready to munch on a handful of sand. When she shared the photo on her Flickr account, she never expected it to go viral.
On the first day, it got about 300 likes and she forgot about it. A year later, however, she started noticing the photo pop up in multiple meme formats. She and her husband were wary of its newfound popularity. Memes were somewhat new at the time, and the ones they did know of were usually making fun of someone or held negative connotations. Anyone could understand their concern for strangers misusing their baby’s image.
In 2010, Sam’s mother first saw the “Success Kid” meme and hoped that would be the version to go viral. Lucky for them, it was. The family felt personally touched by the meme’s meaning because Sam was a success story himself, having been born prematurely and surviving brain surgery when he was six-weeks-old.
Sam Still Has “Mixed Feelings”
While Sam thinks it’s kind of “awesome” to have a bit of fame at such a young age, he never really got to experience it because he was so young. He does remember one major positive to come out of his meme — successfully crowdfunding for his dad’s medical emergency.
In 2015, his mother started a GoFundMe to raise funds for Justin’s kidney transplant. She took a chance and wrote, “If everyone who ever created a Success Kid meme donated $1, we could save Success Dad’s life.”
The internet rallied and raised over $100,000 for the Griner family.
For the most part, Sam’s happy that so many people found joy in a photo of him simply eating sand.
“I do hope one day that I’ll be able to create something that inspires people just as much as Success Kid does,” said Sam.
Watch the family tell their story below.