The Heartwarming Story Behind the Success Kid Meme

Posted by Memetics Researcher on

Recognize this child?

As you’re probably well aware, that’s Success Kid, one of the earliest examples of an Internet meme. What you might not know, however, is the incredible true-life story of the little boy pictured above.

On August 26th, 2007, Laney Griner took a picture of her 11-month-old son Sammy looking like he’d conquered the heck out of their local beach. When she uploaded the photo to her Flickr account, she had no idea of the effect Sammy’s picture would have on the Internet — or the effect the Internet would have on little Sammy.

Just a few months later, in January of 2008, people had found Sammy’s picture and started using it on their MySpace profiles. Some users Photoshopped another child in the background and added the text “I Hate Sandcastles,” like so:

In 2011, people turned little Sammy into an Advice Animals-style meme like this:

Sammy was now officially known as Success Kid and was used to share people’s stories of success. But Sammy’s greatest success was still ahead of him.

In April of 2015, Laney Griner (Sammy’s mom) launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her husband Justin (Sammy’s dad), who needed a kidney transplant. The Daily Dot published an article a few days later titled “Success Kid’s Dad Needs Your Help Getting a New Kidney,” and several other news outlets picked the story up over the next week. The Internet rallied around the family and managed to raise $88,000 in the GoFundMe campaign’s first week.

In August, ABC News reported that Justin had received a new kidney and was recovering at home. Talk about a real success story!


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