"Popeyes Kid" of viral meme fame is now a college football player.
Thanks to a concerted effort on the social media that made his image famous, he appears to have an NIL deal with the chicken chain.
Popeyes reached out to Dieunerst Collin on Tuesday, two days after the internet took notice that he was an offensive lineman for Lake Erie College and demanded that he get an NIL deal.
Twitter user and self-professed college sports fanatic Jim Weber first noticed Collin's status as an NCAA athlete and strongly suggested in a Sunday tweet that Popeye's offer Collin a deal. With college athletes permitted now to profit from their name image and likeness, it seems a natural fit.
The internet agreed. Weber's tweet had tallied more than 52,000 likes as of Tuesday night. It also got the attention of Collin, who was fully on board with the suggestion.
What is 'Popeyes Kid?'
Collin's image first gained traction in 2013 in a video on now-defunct Vine, a media platform where users shared short video clips. A stranger approached Collin while he was standing in a Popeye's line and suggested that he looked like a Vine user named Terrio.
Collin reacted as one should when a strange man approaches speaking nonsense. He gave him the side-eye and went about his business. Thus, 'Popeye's Kid' was born.
While Vine went out of business, Collin's side-eye image has lived on on Twitter and other social media as a sign of disapproval or judgment to another's comment. In the meantime, Collin grew up to be a pretty good football player who won a high school state championship in New Jersey before joining Lake Erie as a freshman.
He told Sports Illustrated after winning the title in 2021 that his viral fame initially made him sad. He was a nine-year-old kid, after all.
"When it first happened, I kind of felt sad about it," Collin said. "It was somebody randomly recording me, and I’ve never been viral before. When it first came out, I would take it as bullying, every time I used to hear ‘Oh, Terio, Terio,’ and that’s not my name … a couple weeks later, I figured out it was me based on the video. I got kind of emotional, cried a little bit. Over the years, I got over it.”
Now he's 19. And he's happy for the opportunity to cash in. As are the 37,000-plus Instagram users who liked his Sunday message to Popeyes: "I JUST WANNA TALK BUSINESS."
Popeyes appears open to talk business. They responded to Collin's social media outreach Tuesday night with a fried chicken pun that appears to allude to an incoming an NIL offer.
Collin responded by expressing his thanks to the internet for its effort on Instagram Live.
Well-played, internet. Well-played, Dieunerst.