You probably never heard of Zoë Roth but you would recognize a photo of her taken at age 4 in an instant. The original copy just sold for an insane amount of money. Ms. Roth was the toddler with the perfect expression which went viral as the “Disaster Girl” meme.
What’s your meme worth?
The New York Times is reporting that Zoë Roth, featured in a social media meme image used everywhere, which picked up the nickname “Disaster Girl,” is rich.
She’s older now and cashed in a cool half-million dollars “after selling the original copy as a non-fungible token.” They don’t have any effect on copyrights, working more like an “autographed” original.
These tokens, called NFT’s for short, have turned the digital art and media industries upside down and have “recently soared in popularity.”
Back in 2005, a planned and controlled fire attracted neighbors in Mebane, North Carolina to go watch. Ms. Roth was 4 years old at the time when she went along with her family. None of them ever dreamed she would end up as a historically viral meme.
Zoë’s father entered the snapshot in a photo contest two years later, and won. Since then, the “image [has been] endlessly repurposed as a vital part of meme canon.”
Now, thanks to the digital advances in technology, the original creators can make money from their property, even on the cut and paste interweb.
Unless you work in the field of asset management you probably never heard of NFTs but they’re becoming more popular every day. Each one contains “a unique segment of digital code as an identifier of authenticity.”
They’re all stored on a “blockchain” public digital ledger. Meme images are particularly positioned to take advantage of the technology.
Ben Lashes is one of those asset managers in the know and he has some pretty famous clients.
Lashes not only represents the Roths, he handles the “Grumpy Cat,” “Success Kid” and “Doge” brands. Between them, his meme clients “have cumulatively made over $2 million in NFT sales.”
She’s 21 years old now and Disaster girl is hitting the textbooks to study “peace, war and defense at the University of North Carolina.” After her student loans are paid off, she plans to use the money from the sale of her meme to “donate to charities.” She’s learned one lesson from the whole thing.
“People who are in memes didn’t really have a choice in it.” The internet is a big and scary place. “The internet is big. Whether you’re having a good experience or a bad experience, you kind of just have to make the most of it. “Once it’s out there, it’s out there and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Roth’s father chipped in.