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When Justin Timberlake showed up, Selfie Kid was ready.
If you don’t have your phone out to take photos and videos, did it really happen? Probably not. Good thing this kid had his device at the ready during the Super Bowl LII halftime show. Otherwise his friends would never believe that he got to touch Justin Timberlake.
Ryan McKenna, 13, flew in from Massachusetts with his family to watch the game, and he got way more than he bargained for out the experience. He told TwinCities.com that when he saw Timberlake headed toward him, he stopped recording video and went in for the selfie.
“I just thought to myself, ‘I’ll never get this opportunity again in my whole life,’” he said. “I just went for it.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 5, 2018
And now, Ryan is a meme: The Super Bowl selfie kid.
This image of him looking down at his phone—possibly to post the photo, possibly just reading texts from all the friends who saw him on TV—is the biggest meme of this year’s Super Bowl. People are posting their own ideas about what the teen was looking at instead of watching his new buddy J.T. finish the halftime show.
Was he trying to sort out the NFL’s utterly confusing definition of “catch,” which came up on multiple occasions in Sunday’s game?
— Jeremy Woo (@JeremyWoo) February 5, 2018
Was he, a 13-year-old who was literally in diapers when Justin Timberlake released “SexyBack,” Googling “Who is Justin Timberlake?”
— Jamie McCarty (@JamieMcCarty) February 5, 2018
Was he watching Beyoncé’s better halftime performance on YouTube?
— Alp Ozcelik (@alplicable) February 5, 2018
Was he texting someone to pick him up?
— ian (@GALDYTRON) February 5, 2018
Getting some texts from his dawg?
— bauhausfanaccoun it’s a wrap like saran (@hypedresonance) February 5, 2018
Looking up the lyrics to the song Timberlake was singing at the time?
— flamin hot cheetos (@baylorfit) February 5, 2018
Some of the best Selfie Kid memes are the extremely meta ones where he’s searching for news about himself:
— penjamin. (@upsidedowntrash) February 5, 2018
— umru 2 (@umru_) February 5, 2018
The truth, though, is that Selfie Kid’s phone had just shut off due to all the notifications he was receiving.
“If you see all the memes that’s why I was on my phone. I was restarting it,” he told NYMag’s Select All.
And despite all the memes, he says he does know who Justin Timberlake is.
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.