Viral memes have been forever immortalized on the internet. The good news is that gone are the days when their heartwarming, funny, or sarcastic content took over the interwebs without being consummately rewarded. In 2022, blockchain technology is behind the sharp rise of NFT memes, where viral memes and videos have been sold in leading marketplaces for tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. The trend will only continue rising. As more NFT memes are sold for big money, artists will be inspired to release even more viral memes in a virtuous circle as a more robust NFT meme marketplace is built. The foundation has already been set with these top five NFT memes:
Charlie Bit My Finger
“Charlie Bit My Finger” is a short funny video of a young toddler, Charlie Davies-Carr, nibbling on his brother’s finger, Harry, and laughing. It was a homemade clip uploaded on YouTube in 2007, growing to be one of the first truly viral memes garnering over 900 million views. The video was sold for $760,999 as an NFT in May 2021 and afterward pulled down by YouTube. However, the original copies of the video are still in circulation.
When a professional photographer took a picture of her then 11-month-old baby, Sammy Grinner, in August 2007, clenching his fist full of sand with a determined face of triumph, and uploaded it to Flickr, she didn’t know that the picture would be an internet sensation. Sammy’s photo went viral, rebranded as the “Success Kid” meme. Later on, CNN described the boy as likely the internet’s most famous baby. In April 2021, Success Kid was sold as an NFT on OpenSea for 15 ETH.
Grumpy Cat NFT Meme
The origin of the Grumpy Cat, a cat named Tardar Sauce, is in 2012 when her owner’s brother, Bryan, posted it on Reddit. It dominated Reddit’s front page within the first 24 hours, receiving over 24k upvotes. For the cat’s unimpressed and annoyed look, “Grumpy Cat” became an internet sensation and cultural icon. Grumpy Cat has its waxwork at Madame Tussaud—becoming the first cat to receive such an honor. In March 2021, the Grumpy Cat NFT was sold for 44.20 ETH.
In the meme world, the Disaster Girl is a meme of a young girl with her eyes fixed on the camera, flashing a devilish smirk while a house burns in her background. The then four-year-old innocent girl in the picture is Zoe Roth. The picture was taken in 2005 as the local fire department carried out a drill. It was a controlled fire, and she was among many other children asked to direct the water hose to the burning house. The picture was taken by her father, Dave Roth, and the meme of her daughter has been repurposed innumerable times in various disasters in history like the sinking titanic or the catastrophic meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. In 2021, the “Disaster Girl” NFT was sold for a whopping 180 ETH. Zoe said the proceeds from the sale went towards clearing her college loans. The Roth family retains the image’s copyright and will receive 10 percent of all future sales.
“Bad Luck Brian” NFT
“Bad Luck Brian” meme first appeared in 2012 when it was posted on Reddit by Ian Davies as a joke about his friend, Kyle Craven, with a funny caption— “Takes driving test…gets first DUI.” In the picture, Kyle had posed awkwardly in a 2005-06 yearbook photo. Captions of “Bad Luck Brian” describe unfortunate and even tragic events. Millions across the world have used it to laugh at their misfortunes. Kyle sold his meme in 2021 for 20 ETH, or around $20k, at the Foundation—an NFT marketplace.
Art, memes, and NFTs complement each other. The creators of viral memes don’t know how their creations will be received. However, if they become an internet sensation, NFTs can be used as a means of monetization, changing their fortunes.