The humble meme has come a long way since its days of confused pronunciation, unclear definition, and just general misunderstandings. Since being added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary last year, it would appear that the meme has taken on a life of its own — seriously, at this point, what haven’t we turned into a meme?
And while these images have attained notoriety by way of ubiquity, there are still a few classics — the originals, shall we say — that have proven the most popular over time. Now, thanks to the folks over at Funny Status, we know what the 10 most Internet-famous images of all time are. So here are just a few of the Masters of Memes and their associated stories.
One of the most popular, unsurprisingly, is The Most Interesting Man in the World. His real name is Jonathan Goldsmith, and this man catapulted into stardom and meme hall of fame-ry with a 2006 Dos Equis beer ad campaign. Now his is the face that has spawned a million memes, but in real life, “interesting” takes on a much more subdued meaning. He resides in Vermont alongside his wife and dogs, and says he enjoys “nature, solitude, [and] quiet.”
Then there’s Bad Luck Brian, the awkward looking kid with the awful sweater vest who has become the poster child for … well, failure. The teen behind the meme is Kyle Craven, who wanted to create a ridiculous yearbook photo for his junior year. He bought a sweater vest at a thrift store and made that face, and got his big break when a friend posted the image online in 2012. Since then, his image has appeared just about everywhere, and Craven says he’s earned between $15,000 and $20,000.
And for a totally different look at masculinity, there’s the ever-popular Scumbag Steve, whose real name is Blake Boston. Back in 2006, Boston was just 16, and his mother took the now infamous photo of him standing in the doorway. Though Boston says he was initially infuriated and embarrassed by the Internet’s abuse of this image, he later found a way to laugh at and even enjoy his infamy. He’s since started a rap career that embraces the Scumbag Steve persona and is an avid tweeter (and Hillary supporter).
But what is actually the most popular meme of all time? Its simplicity may surprise you — the number one spot is none other than the I’ve-seen-it-on-Reddit meme Y U No, from which over 2.2 million unique memes have been created. The Most Interesting Man takes third place with over 1.2 million memes, and my personal favorite, First World Problems, has seen over 727,000 memes created.
Check out the full list and see if your own favorite made the top 10 below … and keep meme-ing away.