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Never let it be said that Pitbull doesn’t think big. The singer and living #brand upgraded his nickname from “Mr. 305” to the global “Mr. Worldwide,” signifying that his ambition knows no borders. But if you’re any less famous than Pitbull, calling yourself “Mr. Worldwide” is a nice bit of self-deprecating humor. Which is why it’s now a meme.
The most popular example is this one, in which knowing one word of Spanish is enough to make someone “Mr. Worldwide”:
The many, many others follow a similar format, joking that taking mundane baby steps into other cultures makes one a Pitbull-level citizen of the world.
Most of the Mr. Worldwide memes are harmless and PG-rated, but because the epicenter of the phenomenon is Reddit‘s edgy r/dankmemes subreddit, some are downright offensive. These often dispense with the meme’s central trope—bragging about doing some tame cultural exploration—and lean on stereotypes instead.
“Mr. Worldwide” mostly hasn’t blended well with other memes, because of its reliance on the original Pitbull image to deliver the joke. But there’s at least one good example, though: this “expanding brain” version:
It does have topical applications, though. This one came up after President Donald Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord:
And then, of course, there’s the anti-joke:
Although the Mr. Worldwide meme may seem limited by its reliance on a single image, we can already see people taking it to the next level by replacing Pitbull’s face with other characters. The same thing happened with other 2017 meme icons like Roll Safe and Salt Bae, and it helped to lengthen the lifespan of those memes.
What these examples show us is that, in a world where memes mainly distinguish themselves by creating new templates that offer lots of room for creativity, a strong enough character can still turn a one-panel meme into a hit. And who’s a stronger character than Mr. Worldwide?
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.