He became a viral Popeyes meme. Now he sponsors the restaurant.

Touch upon this storyCommentNearly a decade in the past, Dieunerst Collin was having fun with “Tremendous Buddies,” a youngsters’s film that includes speaking canine, together with his mother at their house in East Orange, N.J. Then his sister texted with some information: A video of him had gone viral.After seeing the clip displaying him obtrusive at a videographer at Popeyes, Collin burst into tears. The meme, which originated as a six-second Vine video, was stuffed with viewers’ razzing feedback in regards to the 9-year-old, and Collin’s classmates later made him the butt of their jokes.Collin has come to phrases with the meme in recent times as he has developed one other identification via soccer, which he performs at Division II Lake Erie School in Ohio. This month, the 18-year-old used the meme’s reputation to signal a sponsorship take care of Popeyes that can connect his title, picture and likeness to ads.“At first it was actually exhausting,” Collin instructed The Washington Publish. “However the household and pals that I had instructed me, ‘Hey, that is going to be one thing good. You possibly can actually flip this.’ Part of me now’s pinching himself.”A Popeyes spokeswoman confirmed the sponsorship deal, including in an announcement: “From memes to desires, Dieunerst and Popeyes will grace social media feeds as soon as once more.”In August 2013, Collin stated his father, Evens, ordered a household hen meal at a Popeyes in Irvington, N.J. Collin stated he stuffed his white cup with candy tea and waited for his household to exit the restrooms. A person, who was recording a video on his telephone, approached Collin.The videographer believed Collin appeared much like Lil TerRio, who was well-liked for his dance strikes on Vine earlier than it was shut down in October 2016. Collin didn’t know whether or not the videographer was chatting with him or the individual beside him, he stated, so he appeared on the digital camera and glanced beside him earlier than shifting his eyes towards the digital camera once more. Collin stated he dismissed the encounter as a joke.Then about three weeks later, his sister, Everlyne, shared the video. Folks used the quick clip to specific reactions to awkward moments, equivalent to seeing a trainer outdoors faculty or being requested to work weekends. As a fifth-grader, Collin stated classmates nicknamed him “TerRio” as he grew to become well-known for the meme.Collin stated he felt accepted two years later in center faculty when he met new pals who had not realized in regards to the meme. In highschool, Collin stated, soccer helped him type his identification and discover belonging. Collin’s teammates offered him with a brand new nickname, “Killer Whale,” for his blocking on the offensive line.“Folks started to know who I actually was,” Collin stated.When Collin’s highschool coach, Rae Oliver, realized in regards to the meme, he stated he invited Collin into his workplace. Though he usually internalized his feelings, Collin stated, he defined his difficulties overcoming bullying. Oliver stated he noticed an opportunity for Collin to remodel the meme right into a advertising alternative.After East Orange Campus gained a soccer championship in December 2021, Collin posed for an image with the trophy whereas trying sideways to imitate the meme. When an influencer requested Collin what he would do after successful, Oliver stated Collin responded: “Man, I need some hen.”At Lake Erie School in Painesville, Ohio, coaches realized in regards to the meme after they started recruiting Collin in 2021. When Collin dedicated to the small faculty in February 2022, phrase of the brand new classmate unfold throughout the scholar physique.“I don’t suppose we bargained for the sunshine that Dieunerst was,” Lake Erie Coach Demir “D.J.” Boldin stated. “After we actually received to know him, he’s one of many biggest children, like, ever.”Collin, who’s 6-foot-1 and 330-pounds, redshirted within the fall to develop. Round January, sports activities personalities throughout social media started connecting Collin to the well-known meme. Collin, who research communications, tagged Popeyes in a Jan. 8 Instagram put up by which he wrote he was prepared to speak enterprise.Inside a day, Collin stated Popeyes responded. He danced throughout his dorm after settling a deal, and Popeyes designed a billboard that includes Collin in Newark.He’s now Lake Erie’s first soccer participant to obtain a paid sponsorship deal, Boldin stated. Collin declined to reveal his wage however stated, “It’s loads.”“He’s accepting of who he’s,” Oliver stated. “He’s been capable of take the facility from the detrimental aspect of it and switch that ache into revenue.”