Popeyes meme kid aka Dieunerst Collin (l) Dieunerst Collin 2023

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Where is the Popeyes meme kid now? And did he really get an NIL deal with Popeyes?

‘I didn’t know the internet was like that, bro. Now I know to never doubt the internet, ever.’

 

Phil West

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Usually, when a college football player gets a NIL deal, it’s as a result of prowess on the field. For Dieunerst Collin, a sophomore lineman for the Lake Erie College Storm, his Popeyes NIL agreement came as a result of being internet famous about a decade before he started college.

That’s right: the Popeyes meme kid, captured in a now-famous Vine in 2013 giving sideeye that many social media users would later gravitate toward, is all grown up now.

And here’s how typing “popeyes meme kid nil deal” into Google gets you this remarkable tale.

Who is the Popeyes meme kid?

According to an SB Nation article that came out to cover the Popeyes deal, Collin was captured in 2013 in a Vine that lives on in YouTube. The creator, identifying as “Terio,” announces that he’s at Popeyes and then films Collin, who understandably appears weirded out.

The Know Your Meme site claims that the day after the Vine went live, a Twitter user took two still images of Collin and captioned them with, “When you see your teacher at a store.”

Much later, in 2021, a Twitter user shared a side-by-side image of Collin as meme and Collin with a state championship trophy. He captioned it, “From Popeyes to State Champion!! East Orange #StateChamps.”

In Body Image

The SB Nation article observed, “He put together an impressive resume during his high school playing days. Collin was a First Team All-Conference, All-County, and All-Division selection in just his one year as a letter-winner. He also participated on East Orange High School’s track and field team. After winning a New Jersey state championship back in 2021 with, Collin enrolled at Lake Erie College, a Division II program. Now that he is in college, something else should follow. An NIL deal from Popeyes.”

It then referenced a tweet from Jim Weber, put up on Jan. 8, 2023, reading, “The @Popeyes meme kid @CollinDieunerst is now a freshman offensive lineman at Division II Lake Erie College and if this guy doesn’t have an NIL deal by tomorrow, the Louisiana kitchen needs to clean house on upper management.”

Collin then took the ball and ran with it, via his Instagram, wanting to talk to Popeyes about an NIL deal.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CnK1vnbgxGq/

Did the Popeyes meme kid get an NIL deal with Popeyes?

Indeed he did! The social media campaign caught the necessary attention, and Popeyes and Collin inked an NIL deal two days later.

As Front Office Sports relayed in a tweet, Collin did an Instagram Live session to thank supporters, noting, “I didn’t know the internet was like that, bro. Now I know to never doubt the internet, ever.”

CNN reported in its coverage, “Popeyes signed the 18-year-old this month for a sponsorship that will use his name, image and likeness on billboards and other advertisements for the fast-food restaurant.

Collin remarked, regarding the whole meme-ification, “When it happened, we didn’t want to be in the spotlight. And just having that out there, people were coming to my dad and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve seen your kid on this,’ trying to make a joke of it. My dad didn’t like it for his kids to be joked on. But now, the fact that I switched it into a blessing, he likes it.”

Collin has shared some of the images from the subsequent campaign on his Instagram account, including one that shows an ad in advance of Super Bowl LVII with an “Eyes on the Fries” (or Pies) meal deal featuring him.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CoU7CHtpF6j/

Collin revealed, via a tweet on Sept. 3, 2023, that he’s moving from offensive to defensive line “for team reasons.” He also has a merch site showcasing his image and nickname, “Killer Whale,” on various clothing items for sale.

And what, exactly, is an NIL deal?

The NCAA, the governing body for college sports, announced a landmark decision on June 30, 2021. After years of making money from college athletes paid exclusively in scholarships, the NCAA approved a mechanism allowing those student-athletes to trade in on their fame.

Their press release began, “NCAA college athletes will have the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness,” adding that any NIL deals were still subject to state laws that might weigh in on the issue.

The organization reinforced that college athletes are still not pro athletes in the traditional sense, noting, “While opening name, image and likeness opportunities to student-athletes, the policy in all three divisions preserves the commitment to avoid pay-for-play and improper inducements tied to choosing to attend a particular school. Those rules remain in effect.”

“The new policy preserves the fact college sports are not pay-for-play,” said Division II Presidents Council chair Sandra Jordan, chancellor at the University of South Carolina Aiken, in the release. “It also reinforces key principles of fairness and integrity across the NCAA and maintains rules prohibiting improper recruiting inducements. It’s important any new rules maintain these principles.”

An ESPN article marking the one-year anniversary of the NIL rule taking effect noted, “Athletes, from star players in high-revenue sports to walk-ons to charismatic athletes in lesser-viewed sports, have found the NIL space to be quite lucrative.” The article noted that far more athletes than anticipated, included female athletes, have been able to earn money from the deal.

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