Ridiculously Photogenic Guy (RPG) is a photoshop meme and advice animal featuring a photo of a smiling man called Zeddie Little running in the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run. The photo gained notoriety online after being posted to the social news website Reddit where users found the man to be exceptionally handsome.
On March 31st, 2012, computer programmer Will King took photographs of runners at the annual Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina. King uploaded a set of almost 100 photos to Flickr and Facebook, where one of his friends dubbed the man "Ridiculously Photogenic Guy." On April 3rd, 2012, King submitted the Flickr photo to the /r/pics subreddit in a post titled "My friend calls him 'Mr Ridiculously Photogenic Guy'", which received over 40,000 up votes.
According to an interview with King published by Charleston City Paper, King posted it to Flickr around lunchtime and within an hour, it had reached 300,000 views.
Shortly after the post hit the front page, a facebomb version of the photo was posted by Redditor chehov.
The following day, the tech news blog Mashable published a post titled "New Meme Alert: 'Ridiculously Photogenic Guy'" which included an image of Zeddie Little's face photoshopped into a picture with comedian Tina Fey.
Several hours later, MSN posted about the series of advice animal memes inspired by the photo. As of April 4th, 2012, the Quickmeme page has accumulated over 1,000 submissions and a Facebook page for "Mr Ridiculously Photogenic Guy" has received over 25 likes.
The day after the image was posted to Reddit, the man in the photo was identified as 25-year-old New York resident Zeddie Little by the Charleston City Paper. The article went on to claim that they were looking for Little in order to conduct an interview about his newfound Internet fame. On April 5th, The Daily Mail reported that they spoke with Little’s father, who revealed that his son was in a committed relationship of five years and was seeking a job in the public relations industry in New York. In the following days, social media accounts purporting to be Zeddie Little were created including a "Zeddie Little" Facebook page, and the @TheZeddieLittleTwitter account.
On April 8th, the IBITimes published an article quoting a tweet by Little's brother Grayson, which claimed that the @TheZeddieLittle Twitter account was inauthentic. The tweet has since been removed and the authenticity of the Twitter account remains in question. On April 9th, the IBITimes posted a follow-up article featuring posts from a Zeddie Little Tumblr blog which provided answers to questions asked by Little's fans.
Several Tumblr users asked questions about Little’s dietary preferences, to which he responded that he liked carrots and blueberry pancakes. The blogger also claimed that Little had been recognized in public already and that he found out about the meme from a friend.
Barney Stinson Comparison
The Ridiculously Photogenic Guy has been compared to the character Barney Stinson from the TV sitcom series How I Met Your Mother, in which he is always portrayed as a photogenic ladykiller unable to take a bad picture:
On April 11th, 2012, Zeddie Little, who goes by the name Watkins, appeared with photographer Will King on the American breakfast television show Good Morning America. In the interview, Little revealed that the photo was taken immediately after he waved to a friend and commented on his reaction to becoming an Internet meme. He also confirmed he would be running in the New York City marathon for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health.
When asked about the appeal behind the meme, Little responded:
"I really dont know, but I kinda feel honored to be part of a joke that's in good spirit because sometimes the Internet can be a little vicious or jokes can get bent the wrong way. But these are all kinda, for the most part, positive. It's funny that everybody is kinda taking like to it. It's, I guess, the most flattering way to get spread across the Internet."
The series inspired other image macro series on Quickmeme.
The "Tries Really Hard Girl" Quickmeme page features a cropped image of a runner from the original Zeddie Little photo with captions describing Zeddie Little stealing the spotlight (shown below, far left). There are a number of "ridiculously photogenic" animal equivalents as well, most notably the "Ridiculously Photogenic Puppy" (shown below, center) and The "Ridiculously Photogenic Horse." (shown below, far right).
Ridiculously Photogenic Surgery Girl
On May 17th, 2012, Redditor WhosThatGirl_ItsRach submitted a post titled "IAmA 28/F who had 60% of her lung removed today and can't fall asleep in the ICU" with a picture of herself lying on the hospital bed. In the thread, the original poster (OP) asked other Redditors to entertain her while she was recovering from a lung surgery to treat her chronic pneumonia at the Cleveland Clinic. The thread was well received by others in the community, generating a lively round of questions and answers that led on to more than 500 comments.
Almost a week later on May 23rd, the OP posted a follow-up thread with the news of her discharge from the hospital as well as a heartwarming story of how she was visited by another Redditor helpmeimbored (shown above, far right) who read her post while staying nearby the hotel. Meanwhile, many others complimented the OP with praises about her good look despite undergoing an intensive surgery.
Only a few hours after the follow-up thread, Redditor Hip-Hopster submitted a response post titled "As requested, Ridiculously Photogenic Surgery Girl" to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit with an image macro based on a photograph of the OP. Within the first three hours, the post received more than 6,000 upvotes and reached the front page of Reddit.
Ridiculously Photogenic Metal Head
On June 6th, 2012, photographer Miluta Flueras snapped several photos of a long-haired audience member at a concert for the nu metal band Linkin Park in Bucharest, Romania. On the following day, the images were posted to the Romania metal blog Metalhead.ro.
On June 12th, Redditor brayness submitted an image macro using Flueras' photo to the /r/MetalMemes subreddit accompanied by the caption "Ridiculously Photogenic Metalhead" (shown below, left). The same day Redditor AnyRudeJerk submitted another image macro to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit with the caption "Sings a Megadeath song, James Hetfield sings along" (shown below, right), which referenced Megadeath lead singer Dave Mustaine's dramatic split from the metal band Metallica. Within 24 hours, the post received over 1,150 upvotes and 45 comments.
On June 14th, 2012, Redditor debbie_does_malice submitted a post to the /r/LadyBoners subreddit titled "Crushing hard on Ridiculously Photogenic Metalhead", which received over 250 up votes within 14 hours. The meme has since spread to Memebase, 9gag and Tumblr under the tag "#ridiculously photogenic metalhead." As of June 14th, 2012, a Facebook page for "Ridiculously Photogenic Metalhead has received over 215 likes and the Quickmeme page has accumulated over 75 submissions.
Ridiculously Photogenic Syrian Rebel
On August 14th, 2012, The Atlantic published an article titled “Syria, ‘on the Verge of Collapse’”, which highlighted several photographs taken by Associated Press photographer Khalil Hamra. Among them was a photograph of a Free Syrian Army fighter carrying a rocket propelled grenade launcher, taken near Idlib, Syria on June 15th, 2012. On the following day, Redditor bk553 submitted a post titled “I present: Ridiculously Photogenic Syrian Rebel Fighter” to the /r/pics subreddit, which featured the Hamra photograph. Within 24 hours, the post received over 15,400 up votes and 880 comments.
The same day, the viral content site BuzzFeed published a post titled "Meet Ridiculously Photogenic Syrian Rebel", which included several captioned versions of the Hamra photo (shown below, top row). Also on August 15th, the Internet news blog The Daily Dot published a post titled "Introducing Ridiculously Photogenic Syrian Rebel", which included a compilation of several photoshopped with the rebel walking in front of an explosion (shown below, bottom row). On August 16th, the Daily Mail published a post titled "Even in a war zone! Ridiculously photogenic Syrian rebel starts a wave of appreciative virals."
Ridiculously Photogenic Prisoner
On December 28th, 2012, Redditor ravenpride submitted an image macro to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit, featuring a photo of Pennsylvanian inmate Earl Pinkney being led to trial while wearing handcuffs with the caption “Goes to prison / Prisoners drop their soap on purpose” (shown below, left). On the following day, Redditor noclipn1nja posted an image macro to /r/AdviceAnimals, joking that Pinkey could kill with his good looks (shown below, right). Within two months, the posts received over 2,900 and 15,100 up votes respectively.
Ridiculously Photogenic Jiu-Jitsu Guy
On March 26th, 2013, Redditor TheKoG submitted a post titled “Ridiculously Photogenic Jiu-Jitsu Guy" to the /r/pics subreddit, which featured a photograph of the 2013 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Champion Clark Gracie executing an omoplata submission move (shown below, left). Within 48 hours, the post received over 40,000 up votes and 1,300 comments. In the comment section of the post, Redditor SpartySparty replied with a link to a Quickmeme image macro with the caption “Breaks your heart / while breaking someone else’s arm” (shown below, right).
The same day, Redditor DetroitIsNotThatBad posted an image macro joking about Gracie’s ability to knock people off their feet with his charm to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit, which accumulated more than 14,900 up votes and 180 comments in the following 24 hours. On March 27th, Redditor scheppy999 submitted another image macro with the caption “Doesn’t need a sleeper hold / to take your breath away” (shown below, right). Within 24 hours, the post gained upwards of 7,700 up votes and 80 comments. On the following day, the Internet news blog UpRoxx published a slideshow of notable examples from the series.
Ridiculously Photogenic Running Back
On October 23rd, 2013, Redditor ckilborn submitted a photograph of running back Cam McDaniel of Notre Dame's football team running out of a dog pile with his helmet off (shown below) to the /r/CFB subreddit. On the same day, Redditor christophermm reposted the photograph to the /r/PerfectTiming subreddit, where it gained over 11,600 up votes and 320 comments in the first 24 hours.
Also on October 23rd, the photograph was highlighted on several news and sports blogs, including Barstool Sports, The Huffington Post,, Business Insider and Deadspin. Meanwhile, the viral content site BuzzFeed published a compilation of image macros featuring the McDaniel photograph (shown below).
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Elusive 'Ridiculously Photogenic Guy' seems as nice as he is handsome
"My friend calls him 'Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy,'" a post on link-sharing site Reddit declared. It pointed out a photo taken during a recent race in South Carolina — a photo in which a young man was beaming, even as everyone around him seemed fatigued and struggling. The Internet was instantly charmed and fascinated.
The photo has been viewed over 1.3 million times at this point and Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy has become the focal point of countless news stories. But so far, no one's managed to speak to this mysterious and handsome character — and not for lack of trying.
I spent the better part of Friday morning trying to track down Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, who is being referred to as Zeddie Little in most reports. In the process, I discovered that he generally goes by a different first name, spoke to people who've worked with him, browsed through his public Facebook posts, peeked at his Twitter account, scrolled through his Instagram photos, studied his LinkedIn page and learned as much about him as I could — without ever managing to reach him personally.
As disappointed as I am that Mr. Little didn't respond to any of my attempts to contact him, I am pleased to see that the Internet's fascination with him may be entirely justified — he really may be as nice as he is handsome.
Little is a 25-year-old New York City resident. He and his girlfriend, a young lady he'd met in South Carolina, relocated to the city in May of last year. Little is in marketing and advertising, but prior to jumping into that industry he worked as a sous chef for several years. His former co-workers described him as a "good employee" and a great guy. They teasingly referred to him by another nickname.
The photo which started it all was taken by Will King, who — according to the International Business Times' Nadine Deninno — is a 28-year-old systems analyst at the Medical University of South Carolina. King took several hundred photos during the 35th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run in South Carolina and posted them to his Flickr account. But one photo stood out, and King posted it onto Reddit.
Reddit users quickly "upvoted" the image until it was on the site's front page. As it tends to happen with pictures that go viral, by this point there were plenty of modified versions of King's photo — many of them with funny captions calling attention to Little's friendly demeanor.
Little isn't unaware of his fame. "What the? I'm officially famous," he joked in a post linking to Reddit, which was publicly visible on his Facebook page shortly before he hid his whole Facebook account. "I … I dunno. This is bizarre. Funny stuff." in a reply to his friends' excitement.
King remarked in a Reddit comment that he and Little exchanged messages. "He wants to lay low for now," he explained.
Everyone to whom I spoke about Little had kind words to say about him. Each person seemed to perk up at the mention of his name, as if those mere syllables provided the same fuzzy wuzzy feeling in friends that his photo, with that charming, easy smile, is now giving to countless strangers on the Internet.
Want more tech news, silly puns, or amusing links? You'll get plenty of all three if you keep up with Rosa Golijan, the writer of this post, by following her on Twitter, subscribing to her Facebook posts, or circling her on Google+.
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