The People Behind The Memes: Where Are They Now?


Have you ever wondered what happened to that kid behind the funny meme going around on social media? Memes—those virally-transmitted cultural symbols, images, videos, and ideas—act a lot like the flu. As they are shared by one web user after another, they eventually go viral. Unlike the flu, however, they can make instant stars out of the folks who appear in them. Which eventually begs the question: what happened to the people behind the—temporarily—famous faces? We’ve done a bit of research to find out.

Success Kid

エルエルLL/ BY 2.0

Sammy Griner may well be one of the internet’s most beloved babies. His mom uploaded a picture of little Sammy clenching his fist with a determined scowl back in 2007, and his face has since become synonymous with fist-pumping victory. We’re not sure what he’s doing at the moment, but in 2015, when he was eight years old, Griner leveraged his internet fame to raise over $90,000 in a Go-Fund-Me for his father, who needed a kidney transplant. 

Scumbag Steve

acehoward/ BY 2.0

The Scumbag Steve meme makes fun of that one guy we all know—the one who’s a bit of a mooch. The man behind the meme is Blake Boston, who was once a member of the rap group Beantown Mafia. Blake says no one really recognizes him from the meme these days…although something tells us he wishes they did. You can follow him on Twitter, where he goes by the handle Scumbag Steve (Real) and mostly rails against Donald Trump.

Overly Attached Girlfriend

Back in June 2012, 20-year-old Laina Walker uploaded a song parody called “JB Fanvideo” to enter a contest sponsored by Justin Bieber. Stills from Walker’s video quickly went viral, mostly because she looked totally cray-cray, with her wide eyes and eager expression. Dubbed “Overly Attached Girlfriend (OAG),” the meme was omnipresent for several years. Walker frequently posed for photos with fans, raised money for charity, made funny YouTube videos, and was generally very approachable and good-natured about her status as the OAG. She remains an online presence, posting YouTube videos about a variety of funny topics from her channel named Laina. It currently has close to 1.3 million followers.

Suburban Mom

In 2011, romance novelist and real-life mom Carly Phillips, which is her pen name, got a message on her Facebook page letting her know that her face had become a meme. The “Suburban Mom” meme made fun of parents who were hypocritical and kind of dorky, so Phillips was understandably upset when she found out. “I never want anyone who sees it to think that I, the real mom/person…believes any of that stuff, especially the derogatory, inflammatory, prejudiced things in there,” she posted on Facebook. Phillips, whose real name is Karen Drogin, continues to write and publish romance novels, most recently those in her “Dare to Love” series.

College Freshman

Griffin Kiritsy was just another freshman at the University of New Hampshire when he agreed to pose for a series of shots that would be used as stock photos for college life and financial planning brochures. The “College Freshman” meme first hit Reddit in June 2011, and Kiritsy took to his blog a month later to ‘fess up that the picture was of him. However, our research failed to find any kind of recent social media presence for Kiritsy.

Skeptical Baby

 Know Your Meme

In 2011, redditor Dave and his wife Rhiannon took their son Mason to the Museum of Natural Sciences. The goal was to have family photos taken by photographer (and fellow redditor) Jarod Knoten. When Dave got the photos back, he couldn’t resist uploading a funny pic of his son to Reddit, and before you could say “viral,” the Skeptical Baby meme was born. These days Skeptical Baby is probably just busy being a kid, and hopefully he’s still blissfully unaware that he is the face of skepticism on the internet.

Hipster Barista

Can You Ever

The image started on Quickmeme, and before long real-life barista Dustin Mattson became the face of annoying hipsters everywhere. Mattson, who had just been joking around with a friend taking photos, was less than thrilled about becoming a web meme, telling, “I do find it discouraging and disappointing that there was so much exposure brought to an attempt at making a joke of a culinary industry and the professional barista.” As of October 2021, he was living in Atlanta, Georgia. It is unclear whether he is still serving coffee.

Good Girl Gina

Good Girl Gina is the girlfriend everybody wants to have: she’s gorgeous, cool, and down with a little kink. The person behind the meme is Emma Kathrine, a Danish model who had posed for this image for a photographer, who then sold it as a stock image. A Redditor used the image to create the Good Girl Gina meme in 2011, and soon Kathrine became internet-famous. Kathrine currently works as a model and a lifestyle blogger.

Bad Luck Brian

エルエルLL/ BY 2.0)

 The Bad Luck Brian meme came about in 2012, and it shows a kind of dorky-looking blond guy along with a caption about something disappointing or tragic that happened to him. The image was uploaded to Reddit by Brian’s friend, who thought the high school portrait was too funny not to share. The real Brian continues to capitalize on his meme moniker by operating both a Facebook fan page and a YouTube channel.

Ermahgerd Girl

 Ermahgerd Berks-More Books/ Domain

The Ermahgerd Girl, also called “Gersberms” or “Berks,” is featured in a meme wearing headgear and clutching an armful of “Goosebumps” novels. The meme hit Reddit in 2012, and variations of her slurred speech due to her braces took over the web. While other people have claimed to be the Ermahgerd Girl in real life, those claims were all debunked. Turns out, the real Berks girl is Maggie Connelly. Connelly is still a mysterious character, however, and not much is known about her.

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