Popeyes meme child: A decade later, Dieunerst Collin is a college football player who just signed an NIL deal


College freshman Dieunerst Collin’s street to web meme fame began with a confused side-eye at a Popeyes in New Jersey.

It was a decade in the past, and the then 9-year-old was in line ready for a household pack of rooster, biscuits and fries on the fast-food chain in Irvington. A stranger pulled out his cellphone and began recording Collin, evaluating him to Lil TerRio, a boy who was well-known on social media on the time for his dance strikes.

Collin, holding a Popeyes lemonade cup, gave the person a sideways look, questioning why he had a digicam in his face. The stranger later posted a clip on Vine, the video-sharing app, the place it went viral and have become extensively used as a GIF to specific unease or bewilderment, together with captions reminiscent of “When your trainer catches you dishonest on a check.”

A decade later, Collin is a freshman on the football workforce at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, and he is come full circle. Popeyes signed the 18-year-old this month for a sponsorship that can use his identify, picture and likeness on billboards and different commercials for the fast-food restaurant.

He’s lastly cashing in his six seconds of web fame – though his household wasn’t thrilled about it at first.

“When it occurred, we did not need to be within the highlight. And just having that on the market, individuals had been coming to my dad and saying, ‘Hey, we have seen your child on this,’ making an attempt to make a joke of it. My dad did not prefer it for his children to be joked on,” Collin instructed CNN. “But now, the truth that I switched it into a blessing, he likes it.”

A identify, picture and likeness deal – generally known as an NIL – permits college athletes to obtain compensation from model partnerships that use their identify, picture or likeness for advertising and promotional content material. The offers stem from an NCAA coverage change in 2021 that permits student-athletes to revenue from sponsorship alternatives.

Popeyes introduced the deal this month after a social media marketing campaign by Collin and his followers. To kick off the partnership, the fast-food chain posted an Instagram video of Collin narrating his unlikely story.

“This is the place our story began,” he says within the video with the viral picture of him at Popeyes within the background. “The second that made us a meme. We did not ask for it. We did not perceive it. But don’t fret little man, we did not let it cease us. Because the extra we grew, the harder we obtained. We realized to lean in. We turned the eye into motivation and the motivation into championships. This is the place our story began and now it is the place a new one begins.”

The first Popeyes billboard that includes Collin went up final weekend in his hometown of East Orange, New Jersey. It options the viral picture and a new photograph of the grownup Collin mimicking his 9-year-old expression with a bigger Popeyes drink in his hand.

“Fans ought to hold an eye out for different enjoyable content material to return,” Popeyes stated in a assertion. “From memes to goals, Dieunerst and Popeyes will grace social media feeds as soon as once more.”

The new partnership is the results of one more social media second.

On January 8, Collin posted a throwback of his viral photograph on Twitter and Instagram and urged his followers to assist him get Popeyes’ consideration for an NIL deal. His followers rallied and tagged Popeyes in posts supporting Collin.

“Collin Dieunerst is now a freshman offensive lineman at Division II Lake Erie College and if this man does not have an NIL deal by tomorrow, the Louisiana kitchen wants to wash home on higher administration,” one man tweeted.

Even different fast-food eating places joined the push.

“Popeyes does it for the Vine,” Buffalo Wild Wings tweeted, referring to the now-defunct video platform. “Let’s chat over lunch,” rival KFC tweeted in a message tagging Collin.

Within a few hours, Collin stated, Popeyes despatched him a personal message and a firm consultant known as him with an supply. A few days later, Popeyes introduced the partnership on social media. “Proud to welcome Dieunerst Collin to the fam,” it stated.

Collin stated he is excited in regards to the new partnership, and hopes it ends with him getting his personal meal at Popeyes – like rapper Travis Scott and different celebrities have with fast-food chains like McDonald’s. Until then, he is glad to advertise his favourite fast-food chain, the place his go-to meal is a rooster sandwich, fries, a biscuit and, sure, a lemonade.

He was surprised that folks from everywhere in the nation supported his effort.

“A lot can occur with the ability of the web behind you,” Collin stated. “I am unable to imagine I can say I’m formally sponsored by Popeyes. Thank you to everybody who helped unfold the great phrase!”

Collin declined to debate the monetary features of his Popeyes deal.

Louis Moore, affiliate professor of sports activities historical past at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, stated it is uncommon for a nationwide model to signal a comparatively unknown athlete to an NIL deal.

“Traditionally, male athletes should be extremely popular earlier than they get a nationwide model endorsement. But they’re standard due to their success on the sphere, not due to a meme,” Moore stated.

“Linking up with Collin exhibits that there is a change on this considering. Popularity doesn’t should be primarily based on athletic success anymore. Because of social media, younger athletes can come into college already having a model, which could be enticing to firms.”

Such NIL offers imply extra financial alternatives for college athletes, he stated.

Collin, a communications main at Lake Erie College, hopes to play skilled football earlier than turning into a sports activities analyst. He by no means imagined the Vine clip would deliver him fame – and a model partnership – a decade later.

In truth, his household tried to get the video faraway from the web, he stated.

“I just by no means thought it could get that massive,” he stated. “I just thought individuals will transfer on and neglect in regards to the meme. When I discuss to my father, he truly will get actually emotional as a result of he by no means anticipated this (success) for me.”

The meme has grown on him and his household. Collin stated his dad plans to place up his Popeyes’ “Memes to “Dreams” poster in his barbershop so he can share his son’s story with clients.

Does Collin use his meme on his associates? Not a lot. Most instances, he prefers to ship emojis.

“I’ve used it lower than 10 instances,” he stated. “I’m not a massive fan of utilizing it, as a result of it is me – however generally I’ll ship it just to be humorous.”

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