Let me preface this by saying I don’t much care for NFTs as a concept. You’re basically paying an exorbitant sum of money to own an image of something. Actually, it’s more like paying to own a sign that says “I own this image of something,” and the sheer processing power that’s required to create these digital signposts isn’t gonna do the environment any favors. But at the very least, if we have to put up with these things, let the money made from them go towards something halfway decent.
Way back in 2005, young girl Zoë Roth, along with her family, went to see a controlled firefighting demonstration in her neighborhood. Her father decided to snap a picture of Roth in front of the burning house, unintentionally capturing her in a mildly sinister light. This was how the meme known as “Disaster Girl” came to be, and thanks to its powerful ubiquity all these years later, Roth, now 21 and in college, has turned a pretty impressive profit. Earlier in the month, Roth sold an NFT of the image at auction, landing a sale of 180 units of the cryptocurrency Ether. Translated to dollars, 180 Ether is worth nearly $500,000.
“Disaster Girl,” perhaps one of the most recognizable members of the unofficial meme hall of fame, is now an NFT worth half a million dollars. The 4-year-old girl from the photo, now a college student, plans to pay off student loans and donate to charity. https://t.co/cmJrm3qMbA
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 29, 2021
In an interview with the New York Times, Roth explained that she sold the NFT of her infamous image as a means of taking proper ownership of it. “People who are in memes and go viral is one thing, but just the way the internet has held on to my picture and kept it viral, kept it relevant, is so crazy to me,” she said. “I’m super grateful for the entire experience.”
“People who are in memes didn’t really have a choice in it,” she said. “The internet is big. Whether you’re having a good experience or a bad experience, you kind of just have to make the most of it.”
Roth plans to use the money earned from the sale primarily to pay off her student loans. Anything left over, plus whatever additional money she makes from royalties on the NFT, will be donated to charity.