Bernie Sanders, the United States’ Senator for Vermont, has become an unwitting internet sensation that brands have seized on around the world.
In fashion Twitter users described as “dressed to stand on line at the post office” and “grumpy chic”, Sanders arrived at Capitol Hill for the Biden/Harris inauguration wearing a familiar beige coat, patterned mittens that he said were given to him by a teacher in Vermont, and a face mask, with a manilla envelope tucked underneath his arm.
It was a look that immediately caught the internet’s eye, with the picture stealing the show of the historic inauguration not only of America’s oldest ever president, but the nation’s first woman, first African American, and first Asian American vice president.
It’s the cult photo that broke the internet and launched a thousand memes.
The picture of Bernie Sanders sitting cross-legged, arms folded and wearing mittens at Joe Biden’s inauguration became the most viral image of the day https://t.co/P6oO9H6dOA pic.twitter.com/hl3mn5JcRr
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 23, 2021
Internet users across the globe were deploying the photo in memes as the fly on Mike Pence’s head and sitting on a bench listening to Forrest Gump, among others, but brands were even hopping on the trend.
The best Bernie memes I saw pic.twitter.com/mwq6stLV7Z
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) January 21, 2021
Here are a few of the best memes we’ve found, to date, from brands. (We’re particularly fond of Herb’s efforts.)
— wikiHow (@wikiHow) January 21, 2021
— Deutsche Bahn AG (@DB_Presse) January 22, 2021
Waiting for your first sale pic.twitter.com/NKCAkcLf3A
— Shopify (@Shopify) January 21, 2021
— London Philharmonic Orchestra (@LPOrchestra) January 21, 2021
— Eau Claire Police (@EauClairePD) January 22, 2021
— Daimler AG (@Daimler) January 23, 2021
— SmileDirectClub (@smiledirectclub) January 21, 2021
— Herb (@Herbworthy) January 21, 2021
— Jameson Whiskey (@jamesonwhiskey) January 21, 2021
— MTV (@MTV) January 21, 2021
Actor Mark Hamill, moreover, weighed-in on the memes on Twitter after they made their way into Star Wars scenes, saying: “I only know one truth… It’s time for the @starwars/@BernieSanders memes…TO END.”
(The line is a riff on one of Luke Skywalker’s controversial comments in The Last Jedi.)
I only know one truth…
…TO END. pic.twitter.com/WvjsCVtviD
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) January 24, 2021
Sanders’ team has also seized on the sensation of the meme, by featuring the image on sweatshirts sold at the Senator for Vermont’s campaign store.
All proceeds will go to Meals on Wheels programs in Sanders’ home state of Vermont, where sales are expected to raise millions of dollars for the charity.
Bernie made a shirt with his meme and it sold out and he donated all of the money to Meals on Wheels https://t.co/zYoTWFePbh
— Val Geisler 🖤🏳️🌈💌 (@lovevalgeisler) January 23, 2021
Reacting to the inauguration moment, Sanders told CNN: “It turns out actually to be a good thing and not only a fun thing.”
In addition, t-shirts with Sanders’ mittens pose are being sold on Etsy. Jewish magazine Jewish Currents is also selling a mug with a cartoon version of the pose, while the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has designed a lookalike bobblehead, which is on presale for US$25.
Sadly, the original mittens’ knitter, Vermont teacher Jen Ellis who makes them on the side, has run out.
The mittens are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from plastic water bottles, and gained attention when Senator Sanders began wearing them on the US campaign trail in 2020.
Ellis tweeted last week that she had received overwhelming interest in the mittens, and thanked followers. She added that she was “flattered that Bernie wore them to the inauguration”.
“Sadly, I have no more mittens for sale,” Ellis wrote, adding: “There are a lot of great crafters on ETSY who make them.”
On Wednesday, the Senator defended his casual inauguration wear, saying that he was more worried about warmth than appearance when choosing his outfit.
“In Vermont, we know something about the cold,” Sanders said. “And we’re not so concerned about good fashion.”
In Vermont, we know something about the cold. And we’re not so concerned about good fashion. pic.twitter.com/zDtrToPbun
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 23, 2021
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