Their 15 minutes of viral-video fame may have been accidental. Their efforts to cash in were anything but.

All illustrations by Mark Matcho

Their 15 minutes of viral-video fame may have been accidental. Their efforts to cash in were anything but.

All illustrations by Mark Matcho

Great Moments in YouTube Celebrity

YouTube Sensations
YouTube Sensations

Their 15 minutes of viral-video fame may have been accidental. Their efforts to cash in were anything but.

All illustrations by Mark Matcho

Chris Crocker: ("Leave Britney Alone!")
Chris Crocker: ("Leave Britney Alone!")
Video: Crocker, an out-and-proud gay Southerner, performed a melodramatic, tearful monologue bewailing the negative attention paid to Britney Spears, leading to his own media frenzy.

How he cashed in: Crocker made the rounds of entertainment shows and signed on for a (failed) reality show. He also released an album's worth of Spears-inspired schlock. As he railed in his famous video, "All you people care about is ... making money off of her!"
Ted Williams: (The Man with the Golden Voice)
Ted Williams: (The Man with the Golden Voice)
Video: Williams, a former radio DJ who had fallen victim to substance abuse and had become homeless, was filmed on the side of a road by a newspaper cameraman in Columbus, Ohio, demonstrating his classically trained, smooth voice.

How he cashed in: The offers quickly poured in from Kraft Foods, MSNBC, and the Cleveland Cavaliers for voice-over work. Unfortunately, the jobs were rescinded once he began drinking again.
Gary Brolsma: (Numa Numa Guy)
Gary Brolsma: (Numa Numa Guy)
Video: The portly, 18-year-old Brolsma expressionistically lip syncs and dances to Moldovan pop song Dragostea din tei, causing the webcam to shake.

How he cashed in: Brolsma has appeared in commercials (Geico, Vizio, the Discovery Channel) and music videos (Weezer, Barenaked Ladies) and been featured in TV shows (South Park, The War at Home). He also put out an album in which he at least pretends to be in on the joke.
David DeVore Jr.: (David After Dentist)
David DeVore Jr.: (David After Dentist)
Video: After 7-year-old son, David, received anesthesia following oral surgery, his father filmed him asking such drugged-out questions as "Is this real life?"

How he cashed in: The DeVores have earned more than $200,000 from YouTube advertising royalties and an additional $50,000 from licensing and merchandise. David's father regularly speaks at Internet events around the world, on TV, and, recently, at the Poynter Institute.
Antoine Dodson: (Bed Intruder Song)
Antoine Dodson: (Bed Intruder Song)
Video: On the local news, Dodson issued a hilariously hammy rant after an intruder broke into his sister's room in a Huntsville (Ala.) housing project.

How he cashed in: Dodson got a boost from musical parodists Auto-Tune the News, who remixed Dodson's colorful speech. The single release on iTunes resulted in over a quarter million sales; the creators split their profits with Dodson. The Dodsons quickly relocated to a safer neighborhood.
Lauren Bernat: (Wii Fit Girl)
Lauren Bernat: (Wii Fit Girl)
Video: Bernat's boyfriend filmed her playing a virtual hula-hoop video game, gyrating in a T-shirt and underwear. He titled the video Why Every Guy Should Buy Their Girlfriend Wii Fit.

How she cashed in: Bernat made several paid appearances on TV shows and became a spokesperson for Wii Fit competitor EA (ERTS) Sports Active for a few months. She was also approached by Playboy, but says, "I got paid more to keep my clothes on."
Rick Astley: (Rickrolling)
Rick Astley: (Rickrolling)
Video: Astley is the singer of the dated 1987 song Never Gonna Give You Up and the protagonist of a bizarre YouTube prank known as "Rickrolling," a bait-and-switch in which users pretend to link to something exciting but instead plug in the cheesy music video for the song.

How he cashed in: Astley has reportedly raked in a whopping $12 in Google (GOOG) royalties. Still, the meme has led to a measurable career resurgence for him.