Since the inception of meme culture, hundreds of unassuming people have become viral overnight sensations, with funny gifs, videos or images of them being used as templates for memes across the board.
For one 9-year-old who became a Vine meme years ago, that success is about to pay off big time.
Dieunerst Collin went viral after a man videotaped him on Vine thinking he was then-famous Vine star Lil Terrio, who had a catchphrase of saying “OOOH” in an adorable voice.
When the man approached Collin by a soda fountain at a New Jersey Popeyes asking him to deliver the line, Collin side-eyed him in a hilarious loop that’s been used across the internet for years since.
Fans who learned of Collin’s football successes posted a photo of him winning the state championship with the East Orange High School football team in New Jersey, putting up a side-by-side of the original meme and him making the same face years later.
The side-by-side was quickly picked by SportsCenter where it received over 1 million likes on Instagram.
Collin is now an offensive lineman for the Lake Erie College football team in Painesville, Ohio, which caught Popeye’s attention after eager Twitter and Instagram users (and Collin himself) called on the brand to give him an NIL deal, essentially a brand partnership for college athletes.
“I thought this is probably the opportunity I can get with Popeyes to at least reach out,” he told ESPN. “I went on Instagram and decided to post asking everyone to repost and tag Popeyes, not knowing that I would get all the support I got. People just started to join, on my post and people that were on the ‘SportsCenter’ post, and I believe Monday afternoon was when Popeyes DM’ed me and said we actually want to work with you.”
On Thursday, Popeye’s confirmed that the deal had been inked.
Proud to welcome @CollinDieunerst to the fam. pic.twitter.com/nbc61QxIx9
— Popeyes (@Popeyes) January 12, 2023
“Only thing I can say is that I will be promoting that business like crazy,” Collin told USA TODAY. “I actually love Popeyes myself.”