Hate to break it to you, but while you and your friends were in a fit of laughter over the latest meme blowing up the Internet, the person in the meme was laughing too… straight to the bank!
Over the past several years, many regular, everyday people have encountered overnight superstardom and have become viral Internet sensations. While some have failed to find the humor in their newfound fame — we still can’t believe Demi Lovato didn’t find Poot Lovato hilarious AF — others fully embraced it, welcoming the sudden onslaught of attention and using it to launch them toward a new, more luxurious life!
Yes, you read that correctly. While you were making fun of these people and adding fuel to the wildfire that is the World Wide Web, they were gearing up to sell personalized merchandise, sign television deals and buy fancy, new homes! Who would’ve thought that their complete and utter humiliation would amount to this? And also, where do we sign up?!
Danielle Bregoli (a.k.a. 'Cash Me Outside' Girl)
Perhaps the most recent subject of viral Internet fame is 14-year-old Danielle Bregoli. The teenager, who was featured on an episode of Dr. Phil several months ago after trying to frame her mother for a crime, has since been warding off paparazzi and denying claims that she's slept with rapper Kodak Black (yes, things have gotten that out of hand).
Although Danielle is experiencing some of the more difficult aspects of celebrity, we doubt she regrets any of it, especially because she just signed a deal with a major production company for her own reality show!
In addition to the upcoming series, starring the young girl and her mom, Danielle makes several thousands of dollars by endorsing products such as Fit Tea to her 8.4 million Instagram followers. She'll also be raking in an additional $40k in May for an appearance at Miami's Rolling Loud Music Festival, so how bow dah?!
Alex LaBeouf (a.k.a. Alex from Target)
Alex LaBeouf (or Alex Lee), who was just 16 years old at the time, didn't know what he was getting himself into when accepted a position as a cashier at a SuperTarget in his hometown of Frisco, Texas.
After one customer posted a photo of Alex on Tumblr, another Tumblr user found the photo and reposted it on her Twitter account, noting how good-looking Alex was. Not long after, #AlexFromTarget was a trending topic on Twitter and was being searched more than worldwide superstars Justin Bieber and Nash Grier!
After appearing on The Ellen Show just days after his sudden rise to fame, Alex has had the challenge of maintaining his following of 1.6 Million followers on Instagram. He's since appeared on DigiTour, endorsed some products on social media and is currently selling merchandise and donating 100% of the proceeds to charity. So sweet!
Daniel Lara (a.k.a. Damn Daniel)
For the better part of 2016, "Damn Daniel" was the catchphrase that was bouncing off the walls of high school hallways all around the world. After Daniel's friend, Josh Holz, edited a collection of videos where he complimented Daniel's shoes, the Internet was set ablaze.
What came next? Daniel and Josh appeared on The Ellen Show, where they were gifted a lifetime supply of Vans sneakers, which they later donated to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in California. Aww!
Candace Payne (Chewbacca Mom)
37-year-old Candace Payne had no way of knowing the mass hysteria that would ensue when she uploaded a video of herself laughing hysterically while wearing a Chewbacca mask.
Nowadays, Candace is known around the world as "Chewbacca Mom" and has definitely reaped the benefits of that strange title. As of now, her video has been watched over 166m times on Facebook and she's been gifted with a variety of Star Wars Toys from Hasbro and Kohl's, where she initially purchased the mask. Kohl's also rewarded her with $2,500 in gift cards! If you think that's all "Chewbacca Mom" got out of the deal, you're sorely mistaken. Payne also received $400,000 in scholarship money from Southeastern University all while raking in cash from doing appearances! Wow!
Jeremy Meeks (a.k.a. Hot Felon)
In one of the most shocking twists of fate the universe has possibly ever seen, Jeremy Meeks, the "Hot Felon" whose photo took over the Internet in 2014, is actually living in the lap of luxury right now!
While Jeremy was serving a year in prison on a felony firearms charge, he signed a modeling deal with White Cross Management. Now released from prison, JM walked in NYFW just a couple months ago and posted photos to his Instagram of his new car, his huge house and his gorgeous family. Talk about a plot twist!
Rebecca Black's rise to Internet stardom is, unfortunately, more of a cautionary tale than anything else. After her music video for the song "Friday" took over the web back in 2011, RB found herself at the center of just about every cruel joke told during that year.
However, six years later, Rebecca Black is slaying the game! Since that dark time in her life, Rebecca has been very outspoken about cyber-bullying, plus she's forged friendships with several famous YouTubers. Not only that, but she's still singing (and she's actually good). Take that, haters!
Laina Morris (a.k.a. Overly-Attached Girlfriend)
You may not recognize her name, but you've definitely seen her face. Laina Morris was one of the fortunate souls who actually chose to create the character of "Overly-Attached Girlfriend," although she had no way of knowing it would catch on the way it did. In fact, the only reason she made the initial YouTube video in the first place was for a Justin Bieber contest!
Lucky for her, she won more than just a silly competition. People everywhere latched onto her character and started forwarding the video and its respective memes to all of their friends. Now, Laina has over 1.2 million subscribers on her channel, has attended many star-studded events, and is still milking the "Overly-Attached Girlfriend" role for all that it's worth. GOALS!
Sam Griner (a.k.a. Success Kid)
Some subjects of viral memes get fame-hungry after their first dose of success. Sam Griner's situation was very different, mainly because he was just a baby back in 2007 when the infamous photo of him clenching sand in his fist spread from computer to computer with reckless abandon.
Sam's overnight celebrity status was first managed by his mother, Laney, who arranged to have her son, known around the world as "Success Kid," star in Vitamin Water and Virgin Mobile UK advertisements.
Best of all, the Griners were able to fundraise $100K to pay for Sam's father's medical care after he was diagnosed with kidney failure. Turns out, Sam's little photo ultimately saved his dad's life! That's definitely a success.