25 Stories Of The Real People Behind Memes

There’s a high chance you’ve commented on a Reddit thread or a friend’s Facebook post with a meme. Not only are memes an amazing way to communicate feelings without having to actually think of anything, they’re also really funny. Everyone has a favorite meme they like to use. For some people it’s '60s Spider-Man, and for others it’s the Ermahgerd Girl, but most people don’t stop to think that there are real people behind all these classic memes. Think about it: Someone had to pose with a bunch of Goosebumps books so you could Photoshop Pokemon cards or whatever into her hands. These are the stories behind the real people who became memes on the internet. 

In many cases, memes are totally based on the average experiences of regular people. The weirdest part is that sometimes the people depicted in the memes don't even realize that they have become a meme until years later, when news trickles down to them. We've put together a list of the real stories behind the regular people who went viral. Check out these stories behind some of the best memes we know and love today.

Photo: Imgur

  • Hot Mugshot Guy

    Hot Mugshot Guy
    Photo: Stockton PD / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Jeremy Meeks — AKA the Hot Felon — became an internet sensation after his hot mugshot appeared in 2014. While still in prison, he was signed as a male model with White Cross Management because of his criminally good looks. In 2017, Meeks walked the runway at New York Fashion Week for designer Philipp Plein.

    Before his new career took off, Meeks was in and out of prison for gun charges and grand theft. But after his booking photo went viral, he left behind his old life to start modeling.

  • Disaster Girl

    Disaster Girl actually has fairly normal origins. In 2004, Zoe Roth and her dad, Dave Roth, were watching their local fire department perform a training exercise, and Dave snapped a perfectly timed picture.

    Disaster Girl has since grown up into a Disaster Young Woman.

  • Trying To Hold A Fart Guy

    Trying To Hold A Fart Guy
    Photo: Imgur / Twitter

    Mike McGee and his friend were having fun in class when this meme was born. "Me and my friend Mathew were just hanging out in class and I’ve been good friends with Mathew since forever so he knew I could make that face prior [to] that day," he said. "So we thought he could make a funny tweet — as me and Mathew were quite well-known around school for being funny guys on Twitter — so I made the face and he captioned it something and it got little or almost no attention."

    McGee reportedly went to the same high school as Laina Morris — AKA Overly Attached Girlfriend.

  • Ermahgerd Girl

    Ermahgerd Girl
    Photo: Reddit / YouTube

    The Ermahgerd Girl meme began when a 16-year-old kid from Canada was browsing a public Facebook photo gallery and decided to post a weird photo that he saw on Reddit. Three years later, the Ermahgerd Girl was on a backpacking trip in India when one of her friends messaged her to let her know that she had become a meme.

    When Vanity Fair tracked down Maggie Goldenberger, AKA the Ermahgerd Girl, in 2015, she was working as a nurse in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • First-World Problems Girl

    The woman behind the first-world problems meme, Silvia Bottini, is an Italian born model and actress who's been in many commercials. "This photo was taken in a temple in Shanghai, in 2008," she told Vice in 2017. "The photographer was my then-boyfriend — these days he's quite a big name in stock photography."

    Bottini added: "[W]e were on vacation together and he just asked me to pose for him while crying."

  • Scumbag Steve

    Scumbag Steve, the meme everyone loves to hate, is actually named Blake Boston. His mom took the original photo. "People started blowing up [calling] my phone, telling me I was all over the net," he told the Daily Mail in 2011. "At first it went deep... Then I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the [crap]."

    That year, he told RoughDraftTV: "I can completely [mess] up on something and I still don't regret it. Because at the end of the day, that makes me who I am, so I wouldn't go back and erase anything if I were to go back in time."