I tricked People into naming Charles Manson’s fiancée the sexiest woman alive

Charles Manson Rug

I trolled People Magazine’s Twitter marketing campaign and it worked.

As the New England Patriots quickly learned last week, letting followers have control over a brand’s social media presence is rarely a good idea. Which is why when People announced that in honor of its most recent Sexiest Man Alive  issue, fans could tweet their best selfies and get a personalized cover in return, I knew only total and complete anarchy would do.

It all started when @PeopleMag tweeted that, in a cross-promotion with Fox’s new Taraji P. Henson drama Empire, if you tweeted a selfie at its account alongside the hashtag #SMA2014, your own Sexiest Man Alive cover would be tweeted back.

While the results weren’t quite as stylistically polished as Chris Hemsworth’s People cover for this year’s Sexiest Man Alive issue, a few did inspire a laugh here or there (looking at you, Sexiest Grandpa Alive), which is just about the time I started wondering—just how closely is the People’s social media team monitoring those selfie submissions? Given that the turnaround time tended to be about 20 minutes or more it stood to reason that handlers weren’t going to fall victim to the whims of algorithms, like the Patriots did. But it was worth a shot.

First, the Daily Dot’s Ned Donovan aimed to help North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un secure an even bigger coup than world domination.

I chose to double my odds, going with under-the-radar, shoe-loving Imelda Marcos (after all, how many insidious celebrities can you sneak past a celebrity magazine without it wisening up?), and mass murderer Charles Manson’s bride-to-be, Afton Burton. Tech editor Molly McHugh went with a rather glam photo of serial killer Aileen Wournos (perhaps best known for being the woman Charlize Theron played in Monster), to see if that might beat the system.

Who came out on top? Ladies and gentleman, without further ado, People’s Sexiest Woman Alive is the future Mrs. Manson: Afton Burton.

Screengrab via Beejoli Shah

Thanks, People. I love my new cover too.

Photo via poppet with a camera/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Beejoli Shah

Beejoli Shah

Beejoli Shah is a reporter and editor whose work focuses on entertainment, internet culture, and social justice. Her work has been published in Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Fusion, New York Magazine, the Guardian, and BuzzFeed, among others.