'Success Kid' Is From Jacksonville

Apr 5, 2013

If you spend any time on the Internet, you probably recognize the photo of the chubby-cheeked toddler pumping his fist with a look of smug satisfaction.

It turns out, that picture was taken on Ponte Vedra Beach. Jacksonville native Laney Griner, 37, took the photo of her then 11-month old son, Sammy, in 2007.

"He was pulling sand up to his mouth, so I took the picture and quickly stopped him," she said. She posted the photo to the image sharing  site Flickr  so that friends and family could see it, and titled the picture "Why I oughta..."

Left- Sammy Griner at 11-months-old in the photo that made him an internet celebrity. Right- Griner in 2012.
Credit Laney Griner

A few years later, she noticed that Sammy's picture was being used on the Internet, and she wasn't happy about how her son was being portrayed. 

"At first it was called 'I'm gonna F you up.' I hated the negativity of it," Griner said. "Then it was called 'I Hate Sandcastles,' and they Photoshopped a kid in the back."

But in 2010, the tone of the meme changed, and when Sammy became "Success Kid," Griner got on board with her son's Internet fame. Sammy was born prematurely and spent six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, Griner said.

"It just made me so happy when it was, 'Success Kid,' because here's this baby who struggled at first."

The Success Kid photo usually appears on this background.

Sammy Griner is now a 6-year-old Kindergarten student at Crown Point Elementary in Mandarin, and the popularity of Success Kid has become profitable for the family. Sammy's photo has been used in a Vitamin Water commercial and in the United Kingdom on Virgin Mobile ads. He was also invited to ROFLCon, a convention for Internet celebrities, where he was on a panel with David After Dentist.

Laney Griner recently hired Meme Manager Ben Lashes to represent Success Kid and she says we can expect to see a lot more of Sammy. They've just signed a deal with Hot Topic retail stores to carry a Success Kid shirt. She says Radio Shack plans to use the photo in its corporate offices and it will also be on XBox screensavers. Griner won't say how much money the family has made, but says the income has been helpful since she's a stay at home mom.

"It's cool to see your kid's picture on a billboard," she said. "I know it's not going to last forever. It's just a fun little weird thing that happened to us."

LINK: Create your own success kid meme