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

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

Mar 2, 2020, 5:56 pm*

Internet Culture


Kevin Collier

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.

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.”

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