Dieunerst Collin was only 9 years old when he went viral on social media after being randomly recorded holding a Popeye’s cup and looking at the camera in an awkward and uneasy manner. The person who recorded him also joked that he resembled Lil Terrio, a popular social media star.
Despite the fact that he quickly became a viral social media meme, Collin previously stated in an interview that he felt sad after becoming aware of the video, adding that he did not like the attention that was coming his way.
Collin, on the other hand, eventually moved on from that period in his life. Collin, now a student-athlete, won the 2021 state football championship with his alma mater, East Orange High School, according to How Africa at the time. Collin, who is now a redshirt freshman center at Lake Erie College in Ohio, recently made a positive comeback from the viral meme by signing a Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deal with Popeye’s – the fast food chain where he was initially mocked.
Collin, according to ESPN, got Popeye’s attention after tagging the fast food restaurant on Instagram and encouraging other users to do the same. That happened on Sunday.
“I thought this is probably the opportunity I can get with Popeyes to at least reach out,” said Collin. “I went on Instagram and decided to post asking everyone to repost and tag Popeyes, not knowing that I would get all the support I got. People just started to join, on my post and people that were on the ‘SportsCenter’ post, and I believe Monday afternoon was when Popeyes DM’ed me and said we actually want to work with you.”
Collin also confirmed that Popeye’s had offered him a NIL deal, but he couldn’t share any details because he has yet to sign the contract. Collin also stated that since the NIL deal became public, other companies have approached him about potential collaborations.
“I had Dude Wipes, they talked to me and they’re sending me some products,” he said. “I have one company that I’ve been with called Lock1N. It’s an athletic brand from a football player I used to play with in high school.”
Collin adds up to the few football players in his school to land a NIL deal. But he said his teammates have still been supportive. “My teammates were excited for me, because they believed I should be doing what I’m doing now with it,” Collin told ESPN. “The fact that every teammate of mine [said] congratulations, asked if I was OK and they’re rooting for me to make this bigger than what it is now.”
The student-athlete also expressed his gratitude to those who helped him grab Popeye’s attention. “I just want to thank everyone for going in the comments and tagging Popeyes,” Collin said. “That actually led me to where I’m at now, so I’m grateful for that.”
As previously reported by How Africa, Collin initially did not like the popularity he amassed after he went viral on social media. “When it first happened, I kind of felt sad about it,” he told Sports Illustrated at the time. “It was somebody randomly recording me, and I’ve never been viral before. When it first came out, I would take it as bullying, every time I used to hear ‘Oh, Terio, Terio,’ and that’s not my name … a couple weeks later, I figured out it was me based on the video. I got kind of emotional, cried a little bit.”
But he eventually managed to get over it. He also said he hoped his story can motivate people who have experienced bullying. “I would say just don’t take it so personal, because when I did take it personal, I did get to a place where it was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to go out any more,’” Collin said. “And stay close to friends and family … you’ll also meet new people when you don’t take it as personal.”