Dieunerst Collin is unlikely a name you have ever heard but if you’ve been on the internet, there is no doubt you’ve seen his face.
In 2013, a video on the now-defunct platform Vine, an unlikely star was born.
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Standing in line at US fried chicken outlet Popeyes, a random stranger asked if he was Lil TerRio, who was a Vine sensation in his own right.
But Collin was just a random kid and acted exactly how you’d expect if you were a kid and someone started asking if you were someone you weren’t — going shy and giving a nervous side-eye.
It’s been a decade since the video went viral on a platform that was shut down in 2016, but Collin has thrived.
In the past decade, he’s become an American football star, winning state title in high school for the East Orange Campus High School in New Jersey as well as being named a County and Division First Team All-Conference member, as well as an All-State Second Teamer.
At 6 foot one (185cm) and 330 pounds (149kg) Collin is an offensive lineman in his freshman year at Lake Erie College, a division II program.
Far from hiding from his brush with fame, Collin steered into it when film, TV and podcast producer Jim Weber came across his profile.
Weber tweeted: “The @Popeyes meme kid @CollinDieunerst is now a freshman offensive lineman at Division II Lake Erie College and if this guy doesn’t have an NIL deal by tomorrow, the Louisiana kitchen needs to clean house on upper management.”
(Note: Popeyes full name is Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc.)
The tweet kicked off a movement to try and get the Popeyes kid a name, image, likeness (NIL) deal with the fast food joint as Collin posted: “Popeyes, I JUST WANNA TALK.”
Earning money in this fashion was previously outlawed as a result of outdated NCAA rules designed to keep college sport as amateur-level competition, but a relaxation of the rules saw college athletes able to cash in on their college sports careers.
Louisiana State University gymnast Olivia Dunne is one of the big winners from the rules, and was valued at $2.3m on On3 Sports’ ‘Proprietary NIL Valuation Metric’ late last year.
But others such as basketballer Anthony Leal made enough money to pay off his sister’s student loans.
So it could be great for Collin if Popeyes — or another fast food fried chicken rival — come on board.
Collin, who now has 61.8k followers on Instagram, now has plenty of people who have hit Popeyes up for him, including his college.
Buffalo Wild Wings also got in on the action, commenting “@popeyes do it for the vine.”
Popeyes have also clearly kept an eye on Collin over the years, commenting after he won his state title in December 2021 and Collin did a video where he said he “might go get some chicken”.
Popeyes replied: “The look you make when you knew you were going to win, and get Popeyes after!”
Collin is hoping for a career as a sports analyst and is studying sports management, minoring in comedian studies, he revealed in his Lake Erie bio.