June 17, 2021 | Eul Basa

The 'Disaster Girl' Meme Just Sold For Nearly $500,000 As An NFT


In this day and age, becoming a meme isn't the worst thing that could happen. In fact, it could even make you a whole lot of money.

Zoë Roth, the woman whose childhood photo ended up going viral in 2005, made almost half a million dollars this month after she sold the original digital copy of her meme as an NFT (non-fungible token). The "Disaster Girl" meme, which features a four-year-old Roth smiling in front of a burning house in Mebane, North Carolina, is one of the latest additions to the NFT craze that has been taking over the internet in recent months.

Roth sold the image through NFT entrepreneur Ben Lashes, who previously generated $2 million in sales via other meme trades, including Doge, Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, and David After Dentist. It sold for a total of 180 Ether, a type of cryptocurrency, which converts to around $430,000.

Roth, who is now 21 and completing her senior year at UNC-Chapel Hill, says she plans to use the money to pay off her student loans and donate the remaining amount to charity. Considering the fact that her face had been plastered all over the internet for years (and likely without her consent), the $430,000 payout seems like a fair trade-off.

"People who are in memes didn't really have a choice in it," she told the New York Times. "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."

With NFTs on a rapid rise as of late, there's a good possibility that other memes from back in the day will be revived. Prior to selling the "Disaster Girl" meme as an NFT, Roth didn't make any money off the image; but now that it has been encoded, she will receive 10 percent of the profits whenever it is used in the future.

"Being able to sell it just shows us that we do have some sort of control, some sort of agency in the whole process," Roth said. "Nobody who is a meme tried to do that, it just ended up that way. Is it luck? Is it fate? I have no idea. But I will take it."

Several celebrities have been buying into NFTs, including Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton, Mark Cuban, and Patrick Mahones. As the hype around crypto art continues to grow, it's only a matter of time before another unexpected image or video clip makes headlines over a blockbuster sale.


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