- Popeyes announced a partnership with viral meme star Dieunerst Collin on Thursday.
- Collin, now a college football player, signed an NIL deal with the company.
- Collin will be featured on a Popeyes billboard in his hometown of New Jersey, ESPN reported.
The star of a once-viral meme is having a full-circle moment after inking a deal with Popeyes, the restaurant where his famous side-eyeing GIF was born.
Dieunerst Collin was 9 years old when a stranger at the fast-food restaurant launched him to internet stardom with a video comparing Collin to viral star, Lil Terrio, who gained fame on video-sharing app Vine for his dance moves.
In the video of Collin, the cameraman can be heard asking a confused-looking Collin to say “Oooh,” like the creator of the original viral Vine of Lil Terrio. Since then, Collin’s suspicious stare has been used as a meme across social media platforms.
Collin — now a freshman and football player at Lake Erie College in Ohio — finally cashed in on his online fame on Thursday when by signing a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) deal with Popeyes as a college athlete, ESPN reported.
As part of the NIL sponsorship, Collin will promote the restaurant and appear on a billboard in his home state of New Jersey, per ESPN. It is unclear how long the deal will last and exactly how much Collin will make from it.
Collin credited a Monday Instagram post from Sports Center for his idea to tag the restaurant chain in the hopes of profiting off of the NCAA’s new rules for athlete compensation.
“I thought this is probably the opportunity I can get with Popeyes to at least reach out,” Collin told ESPN.
He continued: “I went on Instagram and decided to post asking everyone to repost and tag Popeyes, not knowing that I would get all the support I got.”
By Monday afternoon, Popeyes messaged Collin letting his know they’d like to work with him, and the partnership was officially announced on Thursday.
—Popeyes (@Popeyes) January 12, 2023
The announcement has prompted other companies to reach out for additional brand partnerships, Collin told ESPN.
“I had Dude Wipes, they talked to me and they’re sending me some products,” Collin said. “I have one company that I’ve been with called Lock1N. It’s an athletic brand from a football player I used to play with in high school.”
In 2021, student-athletes celebrated a monumental NCAA policy change that would allow them to make money from their names, images, and likenesses after a decades-long fight for the right to do so. The change sparked a slew of brand deals for college athletes – some even scoring five or six figure deals, according to the report.
Collin told ESPN he’s grateful that his unintentional fame is finally paying off nearly a decade later.
“I just want to thank everyone for going in the comments and tagging Popeyes,” Collin said. “That actually led me to where I’m at now, so I’m grateful for that.”