Where is the boy from the ‘Success Kid’ meme now?
He’s now 13!!
The noughties were a weird one for memes, not least because the memes were just so basic. This was the prime era for simpletons, with something as plain as a relatively normal picture of someone with a funny facial expression practically taking over the world – think Scumbag Steve or the Troll Face. Things have barely changed nowadays tbh.
Regardless, amidst the time where you’d be whipping out your brand new iPod touch and pretending to drink a beer, or secretly playing Doodle Jump under the desk at school, there was a meme that took over all else – the Success Kid meme. For those that don’t know, it’s basically a photo of a baby with his fist clenched, with overlaid text to suggest that something went better than expected. Here’s an example, if it’s even needed:
But now he’s all grown up, he apparently hates the meme and his mum even announced she would sue republican Steve King for using the image without permission during his campaign to raise funds.
Where did the Success Kid meme come from?
In 2007, 11-month-old Sammy Griner was enjoying a day on the beach with his parents and the story is pretty simple after that: child grabs a fistful of sand to stuff into his mouth, parents photograph child. After being uploaded to Flickr, the photo remained pretty unnoticed for two years with not much interest. When it was eventually first used as a meme, it was jokingly interpreted as the boy having destroyed another child’s sandcastle, but the clenched fist and accomplished look of the child were soon more likened to success and that the person using the meme had accomplished a great feat, and the Success Kid meme was born.
If we’re good at anything in modern society, it’s milking a cash cow. Sammy’s mother Laney licensed the image to multiple advertisers, including Vitamin Water, Virgin Mobile, T-shirts sold at Hot Topic and even for his likeness to be used on Xbox screensavers, probably earning a significant amount of money in the meantime. The meme reached its peak when used by Barack Obama and team during his immigration reform campaign in 2013.
Later down the line in 2015, Sammy’s father Justin was in need of a kidney transplant due to issues that had arisen before Sammy was born, so they used the meme to promote a GoFundMe page which raised over $100,000, successfully allowing him to have the surgery.
Where is the Success Kid meme baby now?
Sammy is now 13 and looks completely different – here’s a couple of photos from his mum’s Instagram:
He told the New Statesman in a 2016 interview that he “enjoys skateboarding and hanging around with his friends at weekends, and is currently home-schooled by his mum after he got in trouble for talking during class and for high-fiving a classmate in the hallway.” It looks like he also spends his spare time drawing now that he’s grown up:
The family recently made news due to Sammy’s mother sending a cease and desist to right-wing Iowa Republican Steve King for using the image in fundraising efforts, calling him a “vile man”:
Just so it’s clear – I have/would never give permission for use of my son’s photo to promote any agenda of this vile man or that disgusting party. https://t.co/AVdl9dxXCs
— Laney Griner (@laneymg) January 23, 2020
It’s unlikely there’ll be a resurgence in popularity with the Success Kid meme (at least amongst people below the age of 40) due to older memes being almost exclusively rehashed into a deliberately cringe and ironic form, but we’ll all cherish our fond memories of sharing different versions of the Success Kid with each other on the playground before it became terribly, terribly uncool.
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“Success Kid” Photograph (c) Laney Griner / Used with Permission