It took 17 minutes for Snowden’s phoenix to become a meme

Whistleblower Edward Snowden hadn't even finished giving his AMA-style interview.

 

Kevin Collier

Internet Culture

Published Jun 17, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 1:18 pm CDT

Whistleblower Edward Snowden hadn’t even finished giving his AMA-style Guardian interview before he became a meme.

Snowden is the 29-year-old who quit his cushy government job to flee the country and leak evidence of a massive NSA Internet spying program called PRISM. His personal life is quickly elevating him to mythic status. He’s a high school dropout who left a dancer girlfriend, a home in Hawaii, and a $122,000 salary to fly to Hong Kong and tell the world about government snooping.

Some Twitter users had already actually starting sharing photos of Snowden with that telltale Impact font.

A real hero : pic.twitter.com/iM289JZih1

— Anonymous Operations (@Anon_Central) June 13, 2013

#Snowden saw something, and said something… #NSA pic.twitter.com/UTmFizdHwP

— Christopher Cantwell (@voteforcantwell) June 11, 2013

But the real magic started when Snowden gave an answer to allegations that he’d gone to Hong Kong because he’d become a spy for China: “if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.”

Snowden and a phoenix? Close enough. #madphotoshopskillz pic.twitter.com/FnxdSJZ73V

— Andrea Peterson (@kansasalps) June 17, 2013

OK OK #gameofsnowden pic.twitter.com/dL6ISDdgLg

— OS XI darth™ (@darth) June 17, 2013

#phoenix #snowden pic.twitter.com/rnCcTmOoon

— ¡socratic! (@socratic) June 17, 2013

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*First Published: Jun 17, 2013, 1:37 pm CDT