This picture of Zoe Roth with her tiny face smiling and facing the camera while in her background, firefighters are trying to save a home that is burning has been going around the internet for a long time. This photo was clicked in 2005 and the fire was controlled and planned. It became a very popular meme called Disaster Girl. 16 years have passed since Disaster Girl and Roth is now 21 who earlier this month made $430,000 by selling this image.
Just like Zoe, many celebrities that have been featured in iconic memes have made money by selling their photos as non-fungible tokens (NFT). Since 2021 started, memes have seen a gold rush with NFT. It has been interesting to see it happen. It is not usually easy to monetize a meme. Many people who became memes tried to earn money through their creations but failed.
How do NFTs work?
They work as authenticity certifications. The owner of the NFT does not have a paper authenticating the work but it is actually a string of special characters. The characters are linked to a blockchain which is a computer group that acts as a ledger and no computer can alter it. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are powered by the same concept. The only difference is all bitcoins are the same but NFTs are unique.
Zoe was one of those rare people that accidentally went viral and achieved crazy digital fame. Meme celebrities have often had their faces all over the internet as they are used to convey emotions and reactions while still maintaining their anonymity. Most users rarely would recognize Zoe as the Disaster Girl. This kind of fame is unusual and usually did not offer the meme star anything financially until NFTs broke into the market recently.
What other Meme Stars have sold as NFTs?
Many classic internet memes such as Kyle Craven’s Bad Luck Brian, Laina Morris’s Overly Attached Girlfriend, and Laney Griner’s photo of Sam, her son as Success Kid have recently been sold as NFTs. Zoe sold her meme for 180 ether which is a cryptocurrency and sells for $2200 for each unit. Laina sold Overly Attached Girlfriend for $411000 while Kyle sold his meme for $36000.
The NFTs of the meme does not mean that the buyer or the creator of the meme owns the image as copyright and can stop the use or spread of the meme. Instead, NFTs are basically autographs in a digital form. NFT means the creator of the meme has authenticated the meme. This is just like baseball cards that have autographs.
Experts believe people buy memes as NFTs in a similar way that they buy an original artwork instead of purchasing a reprint or recreation. NFT is like an authenticity certificate. This latest trend of purchasing minted NFTs is giving dead memes, which used to be popular but are not anymore, a new life.
Meme creators have been minting NFTs on Foundation which is a marketplace. This latest gold rush of NFTS has said to have started after Chris Torres sold Nyan Cat for $580000.