You’re probably familiar with Dieunerst Collin even if you haven’t heard of him. Anyone who has used Twitter or social media in the last 10 years has probably seen his face.
Collin was only 9 years old when the meme that made him famous showed him giving the side eye while holding a cup at Popeyes. He became one of the most popular reaction GIFs and images on the internet with just one look.
The East Orange resident wasn’t too excited about his viral fame at first. But his viral moment came full circle this week. Collin, who will be 19 next month, is now a college football player and just signed a deal with Popeyes to use his name, image, and likeness. This is called a “NIL deal.”
He got the deal after getting his followers and the general public to make enough noise online to get the attention of the fried chicken chain. “With all the support, I was able to take it and use it to expand my name and not just keep me as just the Popeyes kid,” Collin tells NJ Advance Media.
The Popeyes meme kid, who is now a college football player, has been offered a NIL deal from Popeyes.
After years of being an internet meme, Dieunerst Collin is finally capitalizing off his image after reposting the meme with his state championship. pic.twitter.com/ZiWhzUG4xd
— Pop Base (@PopBase) January 12, 2023
A billboard is the first thing that came out of that deal. It can be seen on his home turf. In the pictures on the sign, the same meme and saying from 10 years ago are now working in Collin’s favor. Popeyes posted a picture of the college freshman in front of the Newark billboard as a meta-reference to the meme and the New Jerseyan behind it.
The football player, who is now an offensive lineman for the Storm at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, imitates the look on his face when he was 9 years old, which is next to a more recent photo on the billboard. This time, he has a much bigger cup in his hand.
“From memes to dreams,” reads the billboard. And below: “Popeyes, proud sponsor of Dieunerst Collin.” Collin was just going about his business as a kid at that Popeyes when a video of him went viral on the now-defunct app Vine. In the 2013 clip, Collin is asked to say the catchphrase of another viral star, Lil TerRio.
Check out the other content we’ve published:
- The Waffle House Meme: What Does It Mean on YouTube and TikTok?
- Who is the Girl Cop Meme? Tennessee Police Husband Sticking by His Wife!
He just stood there and looked. Collin became a meme after screenshots of him giving the side-eye went all over the world. Let’s jump to the year 2021. Collin posed with the trophy after his high school football team, the East Orange Campus Jaguars, won the state championship game.
He gave a nod to his history as a meme by giving the side-eye. @Jerseystar973 posted the picture of Collin from the Vine video meme that everyone knows on Twitter. “From Popeyes to State Champion!!” they tweeted.
The tweet was a hit because it told everyone what “Popeyes kid” was doing and set up the endorsement deal. Collin, a communications major at Lake Erie, turned back to something he knew a little bit about for the next part: social media.
On Instagram, the football player asked Popeyes to help him. On January 8, he used the two pictures of himself from the 2021 tweet and asked all of his followers to repost them and tag Popeyes.
BREAKING: Popeyes has signed Dieunerst Collin — “The Popeyes meme kid” — to an NIL deal.
Collin is now a freshman offensive lineman at D-II Lake Erie College. pic.twitter.com/xC7UmuJLvY
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) January 11, 2023
His goal was to let the fast food chain know he wanted to “talk business.” His message was shared by well-known Twitter accounts, which put the spotlight on Popeyes to respond.
“It actually took under 24 hours,” Collin says. By Jan. 12, the company had publicly welcomed the football player “to the family.” He was so happy that he began to dance.
“This has been a wild ride,” says Molly Hoffman, the athletic director at Lake Erie College. “It was the talk of our campus that the Popeyes kid was coming,” she says, though the college encouraged people to use Collin’s actual name.
This was being talked about less and less until last weekend, when the national media showed up. “It was nice to have such a great young man go through this process with us,” Hoffman says of the NIL deal. “I cannot speak highly enough of him.”
She thinks that Collin’s experience could make it easier for athletes at other small colleges to get into the NIL. Friends and family have been sending him videos of the billboard at 742 McCarter Highway in the last few days. On Jan. 15, Popeyes showed the picture to its audience for the first time.
Have a look at:
- Shiba Inu Behind The “Doge” Meme Has Liver And Blood Cancer
- After Twitter Quip, Funny Greta Thunberg Vs. Andrew Tate Memes Go Viral
“My mother, she’s very excited,” Collin says. “My father actually was emotional hearing about it and seeing it … He was against the meme and so was I, a long time ago.”
Collin didn’t like that people had been calling him “Terio” for a few years because of the video and meme. “That was pretty irritating,” he says. But when the famous picture of Collin was put next to his real-life journey, the meaning of that meme changed.
The football player likes that his deal is with a brand that isn’t just associated with him because of a meme, but also because it reminds him of his family.
“Popeyes has always been there for my family when we weren’t able to make dinner,” he says. “We would just enjoy it and just sit there and have family moments and just talk and laugh.” Collin will also put his energy into becoming a YouTuber and Twitch streamer to connect with more fans and followers in the future.
At the young age of 9, Dieunerst Collin was already an internet meme. The boy, who was 9 years old at the time, gives the side eye while holding a cup at Popeyes.
Having signed a deal with Popeyes, ten years later this college football player is the one laughing… Feel free to leave your comments and reactions in the space provided below.