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10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

These People Are Real Life Memes

Ever wondered who Bad Luck Brian really is? Or whatever happened to The Ermahgerd Girl or the Success Kid? Join us as we take a fascinating peep at 10 real people behind popular internet memes.

10. Bad Luck Brian

Bad Luck Brian meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes


Kyle Craven with a hot female fan - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Life Buzz

Bad Luck Brian’s name in not Brian at all, it’s actually Kyle Craven. The original “Bad Luck Brian” meme was submitted to Reddit back in 2012 by Kyle’s friend Ian Davies captioned “Takes driving test…gets first DUI.” The original posted received very little attention but later that same day someone modified the text to read “Tries to stealthily fart in class…Shits.” The new post received more than 3 300 up-votes on Reddit in less than 2 months and the legend that is Bad Luck Brian was born.

On May 8th, Kyle Craven decided to reveal his identity to the World on Reddit. in an ask me anything thread that received more than 3700 comments. In the thread Craven revealed that the image was actually his 7th grade school photo. He said that the principal made him take the photo again as he thought Craven was deliberately “pulling a face”. Craven also revealed that he is actually quite lucky in real life having won and Xbox 360 and a PSP within 2 weeks of each other.

Since revealing his true identity, Craven has been spotted several times in public by fans wanting a photo. Even actor Seth Rogen recognised Craven and managed to snap a pic with the internet star.

9. Success Kid

Success Kid meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Sammy Griner and family - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes


Before Sammy Griner was famous for being the Success Kid the meme was actually known as the “I hate sandcastles” kid. In 2007, Laney Griner uploaded a photo of her 11 month old son Sammy eating sand to her Flickr account. A year later, MySpace users were adding the pic to their profiles using the caption “I hate sandcastles.” By 2011, the image’s meaning had shifted and the first “Success Kid” memes began to appear on Reddit.

The image of Sammy became so popular the Griner’s licenced the picture and it was used to advertise several well know products including Vitamin Water and it even appeared on a Virgin Mobile UK billboard. They then hired a meme manager who gained further deals for the pic that included companies like Radio Shack and Microsoft Xbox.

On April 8th, 2015, Laney Griner created a crowdfunding page on the website GoFundMe to help raise money for her husband who was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Several news sites got wind of it and soon the internet was on board. In the end the page reached more than $88 000 of the $75 000 initially asked by the Griners.

Since then Laney Griner has continued to post pics of Sammy on her Flickr account. To this day, many of the images are still often shared around the internet.

8. Doge

Doge meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Know Your Meme

Kabosu the dog - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

We Know Memes

The original Doge is actually a female Shiba Inu that is named after the Japanese citrus fruit Kabosu. Kabosu was at risk of being put down at an animal shelter until her owner, Japanese kindergarten teacher, Atsuko Sato rescued her. Sato first posted photos of Kabosu to her blog back in 2010 where it found its way to Tumblr, appearing with the iconic multi-coloured comic sans text.

In 2013, the meme reached its height in popularity being named the years top meme by website Know Your Meme. It even spawned the creation of a new cryptocurrency, the Dogecoin.

In Japan, Kabosu is actually more well known for being featured in her owner Sato’s pet blog which is one of the most popular in the country. The viral Doge meme did not catch on there like it did everywhere else.

7. Scumbag Steve

Scumbag Steve Meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Blake Boston with female fan - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes


The now famous image of Scumbag Steve is actually a photo of 16 year old Blake Boston. The pic was taken by his mother and posted on his Myspace page way back in 2006. Boston, who was in the rap group Beantown Mafia at the time, didn’t become a living breathing meme until the photo was posted to Reddit 5 years later. Boston was initially uncomfortable with his new found fame, leading those who met him to believe that he was a jerk in real life too.

In 2012, Boston decided to capitalise on his internet fame starting a YouTube channel and releasing several songs on iTunes as his alter ego, Scumbag Steve. These days, Boston works as a chef while still pursuing his music career and is now father to a little boy.

6. Disaster Girl

Disaster Girl Meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

The Sun

Zoe Roth - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes


In 2004, Dave Roth and his daughter Zoe were watching a drill conducted by the local fire department near their home in Mebane, North Carolina. Roth snapped the now iconic image of his daughter smiling devilishly as the house behind her burned to the ground.

He didn’t upload the pic until 2007, where it initially received little attention. It wasn’t until later that year when Roth submitted the photo to JPG Magazine that it was noticed. The photo was selected for publication for an “Emotion Capture” competition and received more than 95 000 views in a little over 6 months. The image was then posted to Buzzfeed where it found its way to all the popular social media sites.

Far from being a real life disaster girl, Zoe Roth now attends high school. She can speak Mandarin fluently and studies college level calculus. “I’d love for the meme to help me get into or pay for college somehow,” Zoe says. “But I ultimately want people to know me for me.”

5. First World Problems Girl

First World Problems Girl meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Silvia Bottini - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Silvia Bottini

The woman behind the popular 1st World Problems Girl meme is actually trained actress Silvia Bottini, from Varese, Italy. The actress’ image first surfaced in 2011 when a stock photo of Bottini appeared as part of the First World Problems collection of memes on viral content site Buzzfeed. Bottini has a long list of credits to her name including roles in movies, T.V. and theatre. She has played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Alice in Through The Looking Glass just to name a few.

Check out her website here: silviabottini.com

4. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

Ridiculously Photogenic Guy Meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Know Your Meme

Zeddie Little on T.V. - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes


When computer programmer Will King took a photo of runners at the annual Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina, he surely didn’t realise he had just captured the picture that would start one of the internet’s most beloved memes. The man with the ridiculously handsome smile is New York resident, Zeddie Little who says he had just finished waving to a friend when the photo was taken. King uploaded the photo to Facebook where one of his friends dubbed the man ‘Ridiculously Photogenic Guy’. He then uploaded it to Flickr where it received more than 300 000 views in the first hour. A few days later King posted the pic to Reddit where it received more than 40 000 up-votes.

On April 11th, 2012, Little appeared alongside photographer Will King on the breakfast T.V. show Good Morning America. On the show Little spoke about what it was like to be an overnight internet meme sensation and added that “It’s funny that everybody is kinda taking like to it. It’s, I guess, the most flattering way to get spread across the Internet.”

3. Overly Attached Girlfriend

Overly Attached Girlfriend Meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Chuck’s Fun Page 2

Laina Morris and Jimmy Kimmel - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

In Colors.Club

In 2012 YouTuber wzr0713 uploaded a Justin Bieber fan video in which she sings a parody of The Biebs hit single Boyfriend. In the vid, wzr0713 sings about her boyfriend as though she is an overly-clingy stalker. The video became an instant hit on YouTube and Reddit receiving more than 1.35 million views in the first 48 hours. The video’s success was at least partly due to the fact that the viewers were not sure if the creator was being serious or not. Her performance led to a slew of memes across social media in which a screen capture from the video was edited with text describing things an overly attached girlfriend might do.

Wzr0713 was later identified as Laina Morris from Denton, Texas and in 2013, appeared on the talk show Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Morris has since appeared alongside Jessica Alba and starred in the 2013 YouTube Rewind video with the crew from Epic Meal Time.

Her YouTube channel currently has nearly 1.3 million subscribers with her biggest videos being the Justin Bieber fan video and a follow up parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” in which she also plays the overly attached girlfriend.

2. The Aliens Guy

Aliens Guy meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes


Giorgio A. Tsoukalos and his wife - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Proof Of Aliens Life

The first Aliens Guy meme found its way to 4Chan shortly after the History Channel aired the series Ancient Aliens in 2010. The series, which was produced, directed and hosted by Giorgio A. Tsoukalos suggested that ancient humans had interacted with extra-terrestrials. The series proposed several unorthodox theories one of which was that the pyramids of Egypt were engineered using alien technology. It didn’t take the internet long to jump on the idea with variations of the now famous meme popping up everywhere.

In 2013, Tsoukalos married glass artist and jewellery designer Krix Beeble from Florida. In 2014, he hosted the H2 series In Search Of Aliens which only ran for one season.

1. The Ermahgerd Girl

Ermahgerd meme - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes


Maggie Goldenberger and a friend - 10 REAL People Behind Popular Internet Memes

Vanity Fair

Like many fifth grade girls Maggie Goldenberger and her friends enjoyed playing dress ups. But when Goldenberger posed for a picture dressed as a book-obsessed dorky teen, she surely didn’t realise what an iconic character she had just created.

Originally posted on Reddit by user xWavy, the pic spread like wildfire across the internet spawning countless variations. XWavy, who didn’t now Goldenberger, claimed to have found the image on Facebook while browsing public profiles and decided to post it to Reddit starting the thread “Just a book owners smile.” User plantlife saw the pic and added the now famous text “GERSBERMS. MAH FRAVRIT BERKS.”

Then 23 at the time, Goldenberger was travelling with a friend through India and the Philippines when she received a message directing to her the meme. To this day she says she still finds it strange when she stumbles across the image saying, “My eyes just get wide and I say, out loud, ‘This is so fucking weird.”


Well that was 10 real people behind popular internet memes. Have you ever spotted a meme in real life? Let us know!

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